Author(s): Ma X, Tan C, Zhu D, Gang DR
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Abstract The Huperziaceae is comprised of two genera, Huperzia and Phlegmariurus. Because of the content of Lycopodium alkaloids like huperzine A, which are used to treat a number of human ailments, plants of the Huperziaceae are experiencing a rapid decline in China, mostly due to over-harvesting. Because of this trend, we engaged from 1995 to 2001 in an investigation of the natural resources of the Huperziaceae in China. The main objectives of this study were: to catalog Huperziaceae plant resources including the occurrence, general distribution, and abundance of the various Huperziaceae species in China; and to determine traditional use and pharmaceutical values of each species. Twenty-nine species, 2 varieties, and 2 forma of Huperzia and 19 species of Phlegmariurus were identified through field investigation, collection, visits with local traditional doctors, and review of specimens in herbaria and of the literature. Ethnobotanical studies of these plants revealed that 33 of these species are used by the local communities for medicinal purposes. One species, Huperzia serrata, is one of the most popular. As a result, it is observing the greatest decline, mandating a change in collection practice and general attitude towards these plants. Introduction of conservation plans and training of the local communities regarding appropriate collection practices of these plants and their marketing in China are required to reverse the trend of decline among these species. In addition, development of cultivation or other propagation practices, such as in vitro propagation, would have the added benefits of socio-economic uplift of the local communities and sustainability of this important source of huperzine A.
This article was published in J Ethnopharmacol
and referenced in Journal of Pharmacognosy & Natural Products