Conservation Panel

The Ethics of Threatened Native Medicinal Plants in Commercial Trade—
How do we as an herbal community instill ethical sourcing of plants we know are threatened?


In this panel discussion, we will explore various models of land stewardship and how they can contribute to the conservation of medicinal plants. Our focus species will be goldenseal, (Hydrastis canadensis), osha (Ligusticum porteri) and white sage (Salvia apiana).  We will discuss cultivation and conservation, indigenous practices & wisdom, forest-grown programs, definitions of sustainable harvest and considerations for how various communities address unregulated harvesting and overnight international demand.

Programs such as the Fair Wild program, Sustainable Herb Project, AHPA, Herb Research Foundation, and current work on IUCN red listing for Goldenseal will be discussed as well as other tools to educate consumers, medicine makers, growers, and conservationists.

United Plant Savers Executive Director Susan Leopold will moderate the panel consisting of panelists Ann Armbrecht, Ed Fletcher, Richo Cech, Stephanie Morningstar, and Tanner Filyaw.



Ann Armbrecht

Ann is a writer and anthropologist whose work explores the relationships between humans and the earth, most recently through her work with plants and plant medicine. She created the Sustainable Herbs Project, now a joint program with the American Botanical Council to educate consumers and companies about ethical and sustainable supply chains in the botanical industry. She is the co-producer of the documentary Numen: the Nature of Plants, and the author of the award-winning ethnographic memoir, Thin Places: A Pilgrimage Home. Her book, From Seed to Shelf: Following Herbs Through the Supply Chain, will be published by Chelsea Green Publishing in fall 2019. She is a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Anthropology at Dartmouth College and lives with her family in central Vermont.



Çaca Yvaire

Çaca Yvaire is a poet and interaction designer with a keen eye, sharp tongue, and deft hands of all things in the politics of climate exile, land sovereignty, children’s rights, wild law and right livelihood. His work explores innovative approaches to ecological problems, using ceremony, expedition, and tracking to divine and discern futures of successful climate migration to heal ecological grief. Çaca is ethnically Louisianian creole, descended from the Atakapa Ishak of the Gulf, Hungarian refugees, and the Serer of Senegal.


Ed Fletcher

Edward J. Fletcher is the Director of Quality & Sustainability at Herbal Ingenuity. He has been in the botanical business and made his livelihood with plants for all of his adult life. He learned about plants from the roots up, propagating and growing native American wildflowers in his family’s 4th generation ornamental nursery business, Gardens of The Blue Ridge. He joined Wilcox Natural Products, and as Cultivation Manager where he developed and managed the cultivation program overseeing nearly 4,000 hectares in 8 different countries of medicinal species. He continued this work as the Chief Operating Officer of Strategic Sourcing, Inc’s Botanical Division for 15 years before joining Herbal Ingenuity.


Richard Cech

Fascinated since early childhood by seeds as the repository of the life force, Richard A (Richo) Cech has dedicated his life to finding, growing and disseminating seeds of medicinal plants, shrubs, vines, trees, and open-pollinated vegetables. He has botanized throughout the US, Canada, South America, Europe, China and Africa in search of native medicinal plants and has introduced many unique medicinal herb species to the US. He is also part of a team of scientists working to identify unique molecules that may be used to fight drug resistant staph. Richo's diverse botanical gardens at Strictly Medicinal Seeds in Williams, Oregon, are the living representation of this botanical exploration, available to the public through his published catalog and website Richo is author of three popular books on growing and using medicinal herbs.

Stephanie Morningstar.jpg

Stephanie Morningstar

(She/Her) OnΛyota'a:ka – Oneida, Turtle clan, Lotinosho:ni/Haudenosaunee & German/English ancestral lineages. Indigenous Herbalist, scholar, student, and Earth Worker dedicated to decolonizing and liberating minds, hearts, spirits, and land- one plant, person, ecosystem, and non-human being at a time. Stephanie grows medicines and food, teaches in her community, and is always learning. She uplifts native species medicinal plant conservation and settler species allies to help heal her community as the founder of Sky World Apothecary & Farm; helps shape the delivery and translation of cold region climate change science as an Indigenous Knowledge Mobilizer for Global Water Futures; and works in solidarity with fellow BIPOC farmers, earth workers, and land stewards to advance land and food sovereignty as the Co-Director of the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust.


Susan Leopold, PhD.

Susan is an ethnobotanist and passionate defender of biodiversity. She is the Executive Director of United Plant Savers []. Prior to working at United Plant Savers she was a rare botanical book librarian at the Oak Spring Garden Library, specializing in digitizing rare herbals and botanical travel manuscripts. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Botanical Dimensions and the Center for Sustainable Economy. She is an advisory board member of ABC and a co-founder of the Medicines from the Edge conference in Costa Rica. She is a proud member of the Patawomeck Indian Tribe of Virginia and the author of the children’s book Isabella’s Peppermint Flower, teaching about Virginia’s botanical history. She lives and tends the Indian Pipe Botanical Sanctuary with her three children in Virginia, where she raises goats, peacocks and elderberries. She is a tree climber, in love with the canopy just as much as the herbs of the forest floor.


Tanner Filyaw

Tanner Filyaw graduated from Ohio University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Geography, and a minor specializing in Environmental and Plant Biology. From 2005 to 2008 Tanner worked as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Rural Action’s Sustainable Forestry Program conducting landowner education and outreach around sustainable forestry, land stewardship, and the production of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs). In March of 2008 he accepted a staff position as Rural Action’s NTFP Specialist, and continues to act as the organizations NTFP Program Manager. He regularly conducts workshops, presentations, and other educational programs for Ohio landowners to help them develop sustainable income strategies from forested lands. In 2017 Tanner earned a Master of Science in Environmental Studies from Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs for his research examining mycorrhizal symbiosis in wild-simulated ginseng, and the effect of mycorrhizal colonization on root ginsenoside concentrations. In his spare time Tanner experiments with producing forest-grown mushrooms, maple syrup, American ginseng, and a variety of other edible and medicinal forest plants on his property.