Category Archive: The plant trade

Root Diggers and Herb Gatherers: The Rise and Decline of the Botanical Drug Industry in Southern Appalachia

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So I have polished off the old dissertation: “Root Diggers and Herb Gatherers: The Rise and Decline of the Botanical Drug Industry in Southern Appalachia.”  I’m sure the title does not do it… Continue reading

The Shaker connection: How Appalachian plants helped create Big Pharma

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  In the fall of 1850, an enterprising young merchant named Calvin J. Cowles left his home outside of Wilkesboro, North Carolina, and headed north with his brother, Josiah, with a most unusual… Continue reading

Root Diggers and Herb Gatherers: How Wild Plants shaped post-Civil War Appalachian Society

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David Greer, Hermit of Bald Mountain: A Romantic Alternative to the “Wild Man” Myth

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By Luke Manget Last week I wrote about how popular perceptions of the “wild man of the woods” in the late nineteenth century led to something of a round-up of human forest dwellers… Continue reading

Death of a Sang Digger and the Fate of the Commons

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By Luke Manget   On July 28, 1908, a Mrs. Collins appeared at the Lee County, VA, courthouse with a shocking and peculiar letter. The letter relayed third-hand news that her husband had… Continue reading

Lobelia, the herb that carried more cultural weight than marijuana.

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Before there was marijuana, there was lobelia. This blue, summer wildflower was the most controversial plant in the United States prior to the Civil War, as it came to symbolize a cultural divide… Continue reading

In the Footsteps of Herb Diggers

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By Luke Manget   Rarely do I get the opportunity to do field work as a historian. Most of my hours are spent in front of a book or a computer, but last… Continue reading

E. B. Olmsted and the Post-Civil-War Ginseng Boom

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By Luke Manget Particularly vulnerable to habitat destruction and overharvesting, ginseng plants like this once covered the mountains, but over the course of the nineteenth century, they gradually disappeared from much of their… Continue reading