By Michael Pilarski
Where do US herbs and spices come from?
Even though the PNW has some great herb growers, most of the herbs and herbal products consumed in the Pacific Northwest are imported. Some of them are derived from subtropical or tropical plants which we can’t produce here, but there us a big flow of herbs into the Northwest that we could grow here.
Here is an analysis of country of origin for the herbs and spices offered by the Frontier Herb Coop, current online version 11/28/2015.
In order of number of times listed as origin.
Eastern Europe 15
Sri Lanka 13
Madagascar/Comoro Islands 4
South Africa 3
South Pacific 2
Papua New Guinea 2
West Indies 2
Central America 2
Czech Republic 1
New Zealand 1
TOTAL 368 country of origins listed.
Asia at 127 supplies 35% of the items
USA at 111 supplies 30% of the items
Europe 66 for 18%
Africa 31 for 8%
South America/Central America 21 for 5%
Rest of the world 4%
Where are the herbs we use native to?
Seeking some answers for this question I consulted Deni Bown’s Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses, which I consider one of the best general references. Here is what I found on my first go-around of 546 genera and species.
172 are from Europe
120 are from Asia
22 are from Eurasia.
81 are found throughout the northern hemisphere. Circumboreal.
48 are from North America
35 are from South or Central America
29 are from Africa
11 are from the Pacific
3 are from Australia
A more thorough analysis will change these numbers somewhat, but they are a good indication of where our current pharmacopia come from. Judging from this I would reckon that 60-70% of the plant species could be grown successfully somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.