Lāʻau Lāpaʻau | Plants in Peril: Climate Crisis Threatens Medicinal and Aromatic Plants

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

HerbalGram issue 81, published in 2009, featured an extensive article by then-Managing Editor Courtney Cavaliere about the effects of climate change on medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs).1 In the decade since then, the situation has intensified, and new insights have emerged.

In the face of climate change, plants, including MAPs, may move, adapt, or go extinct. Indeed, large-scale changes in plant distributions, flowering times, and community assemblages are occurring across the globe due to climate change. For now, there is little evidence of plant extinctions caused by climate change, but extinctions are expected to occur if plants cannot move or adapt quickly enough and current trends continue.2 A recent report found that 1 million plant and animal species are threatened with extinction, with climate change listed as the third biggest driver of “change in nature.”3

Levels of carbon dioxide, a prevalent, heat-trapping greenhouse gas, are higher now…

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