NC State Extension

Medicinal Herb Research and Yield Estimates

Studies have been conducted at six research stations in North Carolina to develop commercial production systems for medicinal herbs with potential economic value for North Carolina growers. We offer here some of the information gained from these studies. Please keep in mind that this is preliminary information and these are not recommendations. Yields are estimates from research plots and gross returns are based on prices found on-line at the site given. Some plants have not been established long enough to obtain yield data.

Estimated yields per acre are based on 109-4 x 100 ft beds/acre. Yield ranges may include 1-3 rows/bed.

Estimated gross returns are based on a list of medicinal herb prices provided by a U.S. manufacturer in fall, 2002. These are subject to change at any time.

American Spikenard

American Spikenard

Common Name: American Spikenard

Botanical Name: Aralia racemosa L.

Spikenard (Aralia racemosa) grows 1-10 feet tall and bears elongated flower stalks covered with yellow-green flowers which develop into purple berries. It grows in rich woods and riverbanks and is easy to cultivate. The roots are traditionally harvested in the fall and used to treat many ailments, including backaches.

arnica flower

Arnica

Common Name: Arnica

Botanical Name: Arnica chamissonis

Arnica flowers, leaves, and roots are used to make healing ointments to relieve pain and inflammation. Arnica is esily cultivated in a n open field setting. Arnica is currently being grown on black plastic, white plastic, and bareground in the upper piedmont of North Carolina and on white plastic in the coastal plains of North Carolina.

Bloodroot

Bloodroot

Common Name: Bloodroot

Botanical Name: Sanguinaria canadensis L.

Bloodroot is an attractive, low-growing plant with lobed, waxy leaves which puts on pretty white flowers in very early spring. It can often be found growing in deep woods. It spreads naturally by rhizomes and seeds and can be easily propagated by both. The root of the bloodroot, which “bleeds” when cut, has a long history of use by Native Americans and has proven antimicrobial activities. It can be toxic, however, and should not be used casually.
Bloodroot is currently in demand because of its use in an animal feed product that is manufactured in Germany and sold in Europe. We have several studies on-going in western North Carolina on the propagation and cultivation of bloodroot. Results from these studies will be available starting in spring 2004.

More bloodroot photos

blackcohosh300

Black cohosh

Common Name: Black Cohosh, Cohosh, Bugbane

Botanical Name: Actaea racemosa (L.) Nutt.

Black cohosh is a common, but very popular, woman’s herb used in menopause and childbirth. Its immense popularity has caused concern for its well-being and cultivation is encouraged. Fortunately, it is easy to cultivate. It is an attractive shrub, which can grow quite tall, with delicate, lacy-type foliage. It thrives in rich, moist soil in about 80% shade. The roots are harvested in early fall for medicinal use. It can be propagated by dividing the rhizomes in spring or fall. Seed propagation is difficult, but we have a graduate student currently working on this problem.

bluecohosh

Blue cohosh

Common Name: Blue Cohosh

Botanical Name: Caulophyllum thalictroides (L.) Michx

Blue Cohosh is another beautiful plant that is commonly found in hardwood forests in southern Appalachia. The plant grows to about 3 feet in height and early in the year can have very blue foliage. In spring it puts on yellowish-green flowers which develop into a cluster of blue-purple berries. The rhizomes can be divided in spring or fall and the plant will spread naturally. Seeds are difficult and slow to germinate and should be kept moist. Blue cohosh is another woman’s herb, the root of which was traditionally used as a childbirth aid. It is easy to grow but the market is small.

burdock

Oriental burdock

Common Name: Oriental Burdock

Botanical Name: Arctium lappa

Variety: Takinogawa long

Yield: 6-17 lbs/100 ft row – 654-1853 lbs/acre

Dried root returns: $1,177.20 – 3,335 40/acre

Direct seeding worked well. Big healthy plants

dandelion

Dandelion

Common Name: Dandelion

Botanical Name: Taraxacum officinale

Yields: 7-41 lbs/100 ft row (763-4469 lbs/acre) Dried roots
Yields: 4-16 lbs/100 ft row (436-1744 lbs/acre) Dried tops

Returns: $1,716.75 – 10,055.25/acre root
Returns: $1,177.20 – 4,708.90/acre tops

Excellent growth at higher elevation, foliage upright and full. Did poorly at lower elevation; poor germination and plants were creeping and sparce.

echinaea

Purple echinaea

Common Name: Purple Echinacea

Botanical Name: Echinacea purpurea

Yields: 5-32 lbs/100 ft row (535-3,488 lbs/acre) dried tops

Returns: $963.00 – 6,278.40/acre tops

Direct seeding into beds worked well. Direct seeding into black plastic mulch produced larger plants than transplanting into plastic. Looks great with good vigor and color.

feverfew

Feverfew

Common Name: Feverfew

Botanical Name: Tanacetum (chrysanthemum) parthenium

Yield: 7-22 lbs/100 ft row (763-2,398 lbs/are) dried tops

Returns: $2,060.10 – 6,474.60/acre

Transplanting was more reliable than direct seeding. Compact, dark green bushy plants.

ginsengflower300

Ginseng plant

Ginseng root

Ginseng root

Common Name: American Ginseng

Botanical Name: Panax quinquefolius L.

goldenseal

Goldenseal

Common Name: Goldenseal

Botanical Name: Hydrastis canadensis L.

Gotu Kola

Gotu Kola

Common Name: Gotu Kola

Botanical Name: Centella asiatica

Gotu kola leaves are used fresh and dried. It has many medicinal uses including wound healing. It is also used in Ayurvedic medicine. It is being grown on black plastic in the upper piedmont of North Carolina

mayapple

Mayapple

Common Name: Mayapple

Botanical Name: Podophyllum pelatum L.

milkthistle

Mmilk thistle

Common Name: Milk Thistle

Botanical Name: Silybum marianum

Comments: Transplanting into black plastic worked very well. Very vigorous plants.

Motherwort

Motherwort

Common Name: Motherwort

Botanical Name: Leonurus cardiaca

This herb is used to treat heart conditions. Little research has been conducted on it either for uses or production. In 2002 it is being studied on black plastic, white plastic, and bareground in the upper piedmont of North Carolina, and on white plastic in the coastal plains of North Carolina.

pinkroot spigelia

pinkroot

Pinkroot spigelia

Common Name: Pinkroot spigelia

Botanical Name: Spigelia marilandica L.

sjw-topas

St. Johnswort Topas

Common Name: St. Johnswort

Botanical Name: Hypericum perforatum

Variety: Topas

Direct seeding and transplanting worked well. Dark green, upright habit, good color, good vigor.

Wild St. Johnswort

Wild St. Johnswort

Common Name: St. Johnswort

Botanical Name: Hypericum perforatum

Variety: Wild

Direct seeding and transplanting worked well. Good color, compact plants, low growing creeping habit with good vigor.

Skullcap Baikal

Skullcap Baikal

Common Name: Skullcap

Botanical Name: Scutellaria baicalensis

Variety Name: Baikal

Direct seeding and transplanting worked well. Plants small but healthy with good color.

skullcap2

Skullcap

Common Name: Skullcap

Botanical Name: Scutellaria lateriflora

Yield: 5-15 lbs/100 ft row (545-1,635 lbs/acre) dried tops

Returns: $2,583.30 – 7,749.90/acre

Skullcap is being studied on black plastic, white plastic, and bareground in the upper piedmont of North Carolina and on white plastic in the coastal plains of North Carolina.

Spilanthes buds

Spilanthes buds

spilanthes

Spilanthes

Common Name: Spilanthes

Botanical Name: Spilanthes spp

The entire plant is used. Commonly known as the toothache plant, it is considered an immune system stimulant and has antiparasitic and antibacterial properties. Spilanthes is being studied on black plastic, white plastic, and bareground in the upper piedmont of North Carolina, and on white plastic in the coastal plains of North Carolina.

Stinging Nettle

Stinging Nettle

Common Name: Stinging Nettle

Botanical Name: Urtica dioicca

Yield: 4-12 lbs/100 ft row (436-1,308 lbs/acre) dried tops

Returns: $1,177.20 – 3,531.60/acre

Spring seeding and transplanting worked well. Big lush plants, good color at lower elevation. More open growth at higher elevation.

valerian-az

Valerian Arterner Zuchtung

Common Name: Valerian

Botanical Name: Valeriana officinalis

Variety: Arterner Zuchtung

Yield: No data-1st harvest in 1999

Transplanting worked best. Healthy, dark green but small, some flagging in heat.

common valerian

Common Valerian

Common Name: Valerian

Botanical Name: Valeriana officinalis

Variety: Common

Transplanting worked best. Dark green color, big plants.

vervain

Vervain

Common Name: Vervain

Botanical Name: Verbena officinalis

Yield: 3-11 lbs/100 ft row (327-1199 lbs/acre) dried tops

Transplanting worked well. Beautiful, dense plants.

Blue Vervain

Blue Vervain

Common Name: Blue Vervain

Botanical Name: Verbena hastata

Yield: 9 lbs/100 ft row (981 lbs/acre) dried tops.

Returns: $3,433.50-$3,924.00/acre

Spring seeding was poor. Fall seeding was good.

Virginia Snakeroot

Virginia Snakeroot

Common Name: Virginia Snakeroot

Botanical Name: Aristolochia serpentaria L.

Yellowroot

Yellowroot

Common Name: Yellowroot

Botanical Name: Xanthorhiza simplicissima Marsh

Written By

Photo of Jeanine Davis, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionDr. Jeanine DavisExtension Specialist, Herbs / Organics / Specialty Crops / Vegetables (828) 684-3562 jeanine_davis@ncsu.eduHorticultural Science - NC State University
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