The University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry will discuss several key dimensions of medicinal plants during its eighth annual Agroforestry Symposium.
The symposium will run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 26, at the Bond Life Sciences Center on the MU campus. The symposium will feature numerous speakers, as well as a panel of medicinal plant growers and entrepreneurs.
The event is free and open to the public.
“We’re focusing on three key items – the health, conservation and livelihood aspects of medicinal plants in agroforestry,” said Gregory Ormsby Mori, the center’s education and outreach coordinator. “While medicinal plants are quite broad, we’ll mainly discuss those that show potential for being grown in agroforestry systems.”
The symposium will feature several speakers from the University of Missouri, as well as several other guest speakers. The keynote presentation will be given by Tom Newmark with the American Botanical Council. Newmark will talk about how important medicinal plants are to keeping the planet healthy and how agroforestry plays a key role in that development. Presenters also include Jim Chamberlain, US Forest Service; Susan Leopold, United Plant Savers; and Jed W. Fahey, Johns Hopkins University.
The panel will feature landowners from across Missouri who are currently growing or working with medicinal plants.
“We think the panel really complements the program,” Ormsby Mori said. “We’re trying to broaden and raise the profile of the event. We want the event to appeal to a broader audience. The research that is presented on is great and useful information. We also want to show agroforestry in action, too. Our goal is to serve the farmers, ranchers and landowners here in Missouri – and having some of those producers discuss their practices is a way to do that.”
MU speakers include Lloyd Sumner, professor of biochemistry and director of the MU Metabolomics Center; Chung-ho Lin, Center for Agroforestry; and Bill Folk, professor of biochemistry.
Medicinal plants are those that are used for healing or therapeutic purposes, which includes a long list of herbs, shrubs and trees. The symposium includes several presentations on the science behind developing some of these medicinal plants, such as pecans, elderberry or black cohosh.
“We also want to be good stewards of the land,” Ormsby Mori said. “We have to conserve these medicinal plants, many of which are endangered because of overharvesting, loss of habitat or climate change. The symposium will also explore the environmental and economic dimensions of transitioning from wild-harvesting of medicinal plants to managed cultivation in agroforestry systems.
“There are a lot of things to consider, and we’re excited to present on each of these facets during our symposium.”