Yellow Creek Botanical Institute
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Actaea racemosa:


January, 2001
Contact Person:  Joe-Ann McCoy, M.S.
Clemson University, Yellow Creek Botanical Institute
Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center
Phone: 828 684 3562 Ext. 127
Fax: 828 684 8715

The $10,000 project funding from ALCOA via Yellow Creek Botanical Institute was utilized to support the research and development of a commercially feasible production systems for black cohosh, a threatened native medicinal herb.  Funds obtained from Alcoa were specifically utilized to fund a graduate student for nine months in the study and analysis of Cimicifuga racemosa  (black cohosh) with the following long-term objectives:

1. Develop propagation methods (seed, tissue culture, and rhizome) by setting up replicated experiments in field, shade-cloth, greenhouse, and growth chamber settings.
2. Establish a germplasm reserve for future research purposes and seed source Develop analytical (HPLC) protocols for comparison of triterpene glycosides from various populations
3. determine sustainable harvest methods in order to predict future impacts of wildharvesting on native populations
4. Monitor three native populations to analyze population dynamics among plant communities for future management purposes.  Monitoring will include quantitative assessment of abundance in order to determine population growth rates, vegetation analysis, in situ and greenhouse seed studies, age size class data, fruit and flower dates, pollinators, mortality rates,  GPS mapping, soil sampling, elevation, aspect and slope.

Phase one of the current project focused on Cimicifuga racemosa (black cohosh) propagation research.  Both seed and rhizome studies have been completed and a germplasm reserve has been established with future funding sought for completion of Phase two.  Populations have been identified with cooperation from state and federal researchers for both a sustainable harvest study and a population study , HPLC protocols have been identified, and all necessary equipment has been purchased.

Future funding will be required to include similar studies of Chamaelirium luteum (fairywand) and Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot) which are also potentially threatened native medicinal plants.  The project is a collaborative effort between Yellow Creek Botanical Institute, Alcoa, Clemson University , NC State University, and the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center.

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