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Jakarta Crown Eco Management: On World Environment Day and Every Day, the Stress of Being Ginseng
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Jakarta Crown Eco Management: On World Environment Day and Every Day, the Stress of Being Ginseng

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Being surrounded by ginseng--a low-growing green-leafed herb of North American forests--may have been common in 1751, but today? Ginseng is under siege. …

Being surrounded by ginseng--a low-growing green-leafed herb of North American forests--may have been common in 1751, but today? Ginseng is under siege.
Biologist James McGraw of West Virginia University should know. Today on World Environment Day, and indeed every day, McGraw says that we can learn much about the environment around us from one small plant.
Funded by a National Science Foundation (NSF) Long Term Research in Environmental Biology (LTREB) grant, McGraw and colleagues peer into the lives of more than 4,000 individual ginseng plants each year to see how they're faring.
"These understory plants are subject to all manner of [environmental] stresses," says McGraw. "After a while, you begin to wonder why there are any left."

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  • 1. http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=128122&org=NSF&from=news/
  • 2. THEUNASSUMINGHERBAMERICANGINSENG,HIDDENINCOOLWOODLANDS.Credit: Susan BullRiley
  • 3. This article is the sixth in a series on NSFs Long Term Research inEnvironmental Biology (LTREB) awards. Visitparts one, two,three, four, and five.“We entered a vale at 5 oclock, then crossed a run and rode along a richlevel for several miles, and under the delightful protection of very tall treesthat brought us to a creek...where we lodged surrounded by ginseng.--John Bartram, 1751, Travels from Pensilvania to Onandaga, Oswego andLake Ontario in Canada”Being surrounded by ginseng--a low-growing green-leafed herb of NorthAmerican forests--may have been common in 1751, but today? Ginseng isunder siege.Biologist James McGraw of West Virginia University should know. Today onWorld Environment Day, and indeed every day, McGraw says that we canlearn much about the environment around us from one small plant.Funded by a National Science Foundation (NSF) Long Term Research inEnvironmental Biology (LTREB) grant, McGraw and colleagues peer intothe lives of more than 4,000 individual ginseng plants each year to see howtheyre faring."These understory plants are subject to all manner of [environmental]stresses," says McGraw. "After a while, you begin to wonder why there areany left."
  • 4. FACING A PANOPLY OF THREATSFirst, he says, theres harvesting for medicinal uses, "which iswidespread and often illegally or at least unethically done. Thenwe have our four-footed friends--white-tailed deer--which eat asignificant number of plants every year.“The plants next challenge is the growth of invasive species suchas multiflora rose and garlic mustard, which compete withginseng.The effects of global warming, including summers with heatwaves and droughts, add to the burden for these plants of coolerclimes. "Ginseng is also affected by ice storms, late frosts andhurricane flooding," says McGraw.Then these Indiana Joneses of the plant world must survivewhat McGraw refers to as "natural pests:" insects defoliators andfungal pathogens.
  • 5. Last--but definitely not least--is us."Were just beginning to understand what humans aredoing to the forests where ginseng thrives:timbering, suppressing natural fires, mining, clearingland for housing developments, the list goes on andon," says McGraw.The persistence of a slow-growing and valuablemedicinal plant "despite all this," he says, "is atestament to the resilience of nature--and to thestewardship of those land-owners who care aboutprotecting biodiversity in their forests."
  • 6. SPECIES IN AN EXTINCTION VORTEXTigers, elephants and ginseng all share a commonfeature, says Saran Twombly, director of NSFs LTREBprogram."These dwindling populations face increasing threats thattrap them in an extinction vortex," Twombly says."McGraws research relies on long-term data to identify thefactors threatening populations of this important forestplant. The results show the knife-edge that separateshealthy and unhealthy populations.“The NSF LTREB award "has been critical to ourunderstanding of the big picture of ginseng conservation,"says McGraw.
  • 7. He and colleagues work on one species of ginseng, Panaxquinquefolius L., American ginseng. This member of theginseng family, whose genus name Panax means "allheal" in Greek, hides deep in eastern deciduouswoodlands.The plant was historically found in rich, cool hardwoodforests--from southern Quebec and Ontario south tonorthern Georgia, and west as far as Minnesota, easternOklahoma and northern Louisiana."Ginseng populations vary from frequent to uncommon torare across the landscape," says McGraw, "but theyrealmost always small, usually fewer than 300 plants."
  • 8. MEDICINAL PLANT FOR THE AGESThe species has long been valued for its medicinalqualities, especially by Asian cultures. Theyve integratedAmerican ginseng into traditional medicinal practices as acomplement to native Asian ginseng species.In Asia, ginseng is considered an adaptogen--it enhances overallenergy levels."In western medicine, ginseng has exhibited anti-cancerproperties in cell cultures," says McGraw. "Its also shownbeneficial effects on blood sugar and obesity, as well as onenhancing the immune system for prevention of colds and flu.“After ginseng was discovered in North America, the marketquickly became profitable enough to fuel intense wildharvesting, eventually reaching an industrial scale.
  • 9. "Ginseng shares a part of early American history,"says McGraw. "Its roots--the most sought-after parts--were first exported to Asia from the United States inthe early 1700s.“In one typical year (1841), more than 290,000kilograms of dry ginseng roots were shipped fromNorth America to the Asian continent."Although average root size was larger in the 1800sthan it is today," says McGraw, "even a conservativeestimate suggests that this represents at least 64million roots."
  • 10. GINSENG AT THE FOREFRONTHarvest of the plant has continued apace, he says, particularly in theAppalachian region, where the sale of ginseng still supplements householdincomes.Ecologists began studying ginseng because of its value as a wild-harvestedspecies, and its decrease in abundance after decades of harvesting.Now, however, ginseng has become an important model species--asensitive indicator of the effects of global and regional environmentalchange on deciduous forests."The prominence of American ginseng has led to its use as a phytometer[a gauge] to better understand how change is affecting lesser-known plantspecies in eastern North America," says McGraw.The data in his project come from 30 ginseng populations in seven states."Our study populations are in habitats from suburban woodlots to rich, old-growth forests," McGraw says.
  • 11. In a paper published this year in the Annals of The New York Academy ofSciences, McGraw and co-authors state that the Asian market has madeginseng North Americas most important harvested wild medicinal plant overthe past two centuries.That status prompted a listing on CITES (Convention on International Tradein Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) Appendix II. All species onAppendix II are susceptible to extinction in the absence of trade controls.Most states with ginseng populations are converging on a uniform start datefor harvesting--Sept. 1. "That allows time after harvest for planting ripeseeds that will lead to recovery of the plants," McGraw says.Since forests are, for the most part, open to everyone, ginseng will continueto be harvested as long as there is immediate profit to be made, scientistsbelieve.Successful sustainability in such open access habitats, they say, dependson management of the resource by those who actively harvest it.
  • 12. SUSTAINABILITY AND GINSENGMcGraw and colleagues research shows that ginseng harvesters willing to employ astewardship strategy gain the most benefit by harvesting when seeds are ripe, usuallyin autumn months, then planting the seeds to ensure high germination rates.September is a summertime away. But in northeastern forests, ginseng leaves havealready unfurled."Now they face a gamut of environmental challenges," says McGraw. "Theyre rootedin place, left with whatever nature--or more likely humans--dish out. If we wantginseng to be part of the future landscape, we had best tread very carefully.“"Ginseng is not everywhere common," wrote Swedish naturalist Peter Kalm in 1749."Sometimes you may search the woods for several miles without finding a singleplant. Round Montreal they formerly grew in abundance, but there is not a single plantto be found, so they have been rooted out.“By three centuries later, northeastern forests may be empty--at least of anunassuming and "all healing" herb named ginseng.
  • 13. RELATED ARTICLEShttp://forums.ebay.com/db1/topic/About-Me-Page/International-Crown-Capital/5100137440http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/81324-crown-capital-management-jakarta-indonesia