Non-Timber Forest Products

Botanicals, including medicinal herbs and health supplement production, have a long history in North America.

Botanicals, including medicinal herbs and health supplement production, have a long history in North America. Some of the first products of the colonies, tobacco and sassafras were exported for their health promoting properties. Much of the early exploration of Appalachia was to exploit the vast reserves of native ginseng, not for the fur market as is often suggested.

This site focuses on the medicinals (specifically ginseng, goldenseal and general botanical production) which can be grown successfully in a woodlot. For many landowners, this process might provide a potentially stable income opportunity, allowing them to have some intermediate returns between timber harvests. For landowners whose goals do not include timber harvesting, these products might supply an income source that otherwise would not have existed. This site is specifically directed towards cultivation of medicinals.  No exploitation of wild stocks is suggested or implied.

Botanical production can provide an extra income for forestland owners.  Ginseng and goldenseal are the best known forest botanicals; however, numerous other products have market potential.  Worth noting, again, is that this publication/web site does not encourage wildcrafting of any herbal product.  Especially for plants controlled by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).  The goal of this publication/web site is to present some introductory information on botanical cultivation, harvest, and sale.  Production of specialty products like ginseng and goldenseal is always subject to greater risks than traditional agricultural crops; however, an associated greater potential return also exists.  If a landowner develops a keen interest in production of botanical products, additional research and a series of test plantations is advised prior to major investment in a larger scale operation.  With all of these qualifiers, specialty products production, particularly botanical productions, is well-suited to the small forest landowner.  Much of the initial investment is in labor and not in equipment or planting stock.  Losses are low and potential for income fairly high.  In many cases, small plantations made with limited investments can provide relatively significant income.

Non-Timber Products Contacts

Eric Burkhart
Program Director, Plant Science
Shaver's Creek Environmental Center
Phone: 814-863-2000