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Title: USDA Farmer's Bulletin 663 - Drug Plants Under Cultivation
Author: Stockberger, W. W.
Language: English
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                         FARMERS' BULLETIN 663

                UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE



                              DRUG PLANTS
                           UNDER CULTIVATION

                            [Illustration]



  This Bulletin gives general suggestions relative to the culture,
  harvesting, distillation, yield, marketing, and commercial prospects
  for drug plants. Specific information is also given concerning the
  cultivation, handling, and yield of individual species and the demand
  and prices paid for the product.

  The market demand for many cultivated plant drugs is not large enough
  to justify growing them except as small minor crops.

  The haphazard production of crude drugs in small lots of a few pounds
  usually means a dissatisfied producer.

  A special knowledge of trade requirements is necessary in collecting,
  curing, preserving, and packing drugs for market.

  Most farm products find a ready local market; a special market must be
  sought for plant drugs.

  High prices for plant drugs do not insure large profits in producing
  them. Not the price received, but the difference between the cost of
  production and the selling price is the important point.


            Contribution from the Bureau of Plant Industry

                         WM. A. TAYLOR, Chief

                                        Issued, June, 1915
            Washington, D. C.        Revised, August, 1920

  Show this bulletin to a neighbor. Additional copies may be obtained
  free from the Division of Publications, United States Department of
  Agriculture.



DRUG PLANTS UNDER CULTIVATION.


W. W. Stockberger, _Physiologist in Charge, Drug, Poisonous, and Oil
Plant Investigations_.



CONTENTS.


                                                             Page.

Production of crude drugs                                       3

Some drug plants suitable for cultivation in the United States  4

General cultural suggestions                                    5

Harvesting                                                      8

Distillation                                                    9

Yield                                                          11

Marketing                                                      11

Commercial prospects                                           12

The cultivation and handling of drug plants                    14



PRODUCTION OF CRUDE DRUGS.


Interest in the possibility of deriving profit from the growing of drug
plants is increasing yearly. The clearing of forests, the extension of
the areas of land under tillage, and the activities of drug collectors
threaten the extermination of a number of valuable native drug plants.
Annually, large sums of money are expended for crude drugs imported
from countries where they are grown under conditions of soil and
climate resembling those of many localities in the United States.
As a means of guaranteeing the future supply of crude drugs and of
lessening the dependence on importations, attention is now being turned
to the cultivation of drug plants with a view to increasing domestic
production.

The problems presented by the cultivation of drug plants are not less
difficult than those encountered in the production of many other
crops. Drug plants are subject to the same diseases and risks as other
crops and are similarly affected by variations in soil and climatic
conditions. They require a considerable outlay of labor, the same as
other crops, and likewise require intelligent care and handling. They
are subject to the same laws of supply and demand, and, like other
products, must conform to the consumer's fancy and to definite trade
requirements.

A number of common medicinal plants have long been cultivated in
gardens in this country, either as ornamentals or as a source of herbs
used in cookery and as domestic remedies. A few of these plants, such
as goldenseal, wormwood, wormseed, and peppermint, have been grown
commercially for sale as crude drugs; but the acreage devoted to their
production has been relatively small and for the most part restricted
to certain localities. Other drug plants which occur as common weeds in
many places may prove to respond to cultivation; experiments should
then be undertaken to determine whether it is profitable to grow them.
In this connection it should be remembered that the soil type very
often is an important limiting factor in propagating different kinds
of plants. Some plants grow best in well-drained loam, some prefer a
marsh, some require soils rich in lime, while others thrive only in
acid soil. The soil requirements of all plants are not understood;
in fact it is not improbable that better comprehension of the soil,
climatic, and cultural conditions adapted to the different kinds of
plants will enable the successful propagation of species now regarded
as unsuited to cultivation. In undertaking the growing of medicinal
plants, therefore, it is essential to know that the species selected
for cultivation will do well under the conditions of soil and climate
existing where the planting is to be made. When necessary, this should
be determined on small experimental plats before undertaking commercial
plantings.

Assuming that the soil and climate of the situation selected are
suitable for the growing of drug plants, it does not necessarily follow
that they can be produced at a profit. The cost of production and
marketing may be greater than the amount received for the crop when it
is sold. Some drug plants not well suited for cultivation on a large
scale may be found profitable when grown on small areas as a side line.
On the other hand, some may be produced more cheaply when cultivated on
a scale large enough to warrant the use of labor-saving devices than
when grown on small areas with the aid of hand labor alone. The value
of land, the cost and availability of labor, and the possible returns
from other crops are all factors to be considered carefully. On account
of the variation in these factors according to locality, the same
crop might prove to be profitable in one location and unprofitable in
another. It is for these reasons that unqualified statements concerning
the ease and profitableness of drug plant growing should not be taken
too seriously.



SOME DRUG PLANTS SUITABLE FOR CULTIVATION IN THE UNITED STATES.


The number of drug plants which may be grown in the United States
is large, although the same plants are not equally adapted to the
conditions of soil and climate prevailing in different sections. Often
the most suitable plants for a particular locality can not be foretold,
especially in those situations where no attempts have yet been made to
grow them. In such cases it is well to select for cultivation plants
which thrive elsewhere under conditions most closely resembling those
of the new situation in which it is proposed to grow them. The success
with which ordinary field or garden crops can be grown will in general
indicate the possible suitability of a given location for growing many
medicinal plants. Since a number of native medicinal plants which
in their wild state are restricted to certain localities have been
successfully cultivated in situations far beyond their natural range,
there are good reasons for believing that many such plants will thrive
in sections where they are not now grown. However, good results can
scarcely be expected unless the plants are placed under conditions
similar to those in which they normally thrive.

In suitable soil and under favorable weather conditions the following
drug plants have been found to thrive well under cultivation in
numerous places in the Central and Eastern States and will probably
be found suitable for cultivation in many other situations if the
difference in climatic conditions is not too great:

  Anise.       Conium.     Elecampane.  Sage.
  Belladonna.  Coriander.  Fennel.      Stramonium.
  Camomile.    Digitalis.  Henbane.     Tansy.
  Caraway.     Dill.       Horehound.   Thyme.

Some perennials, such as belladonna and digitalis, are only partly
hardy and would be subject to winterkilling in the colder sections.
Such plants as aconite, arnica, lovage, poppy, seneca, valerian, and
wormwood seem to thrive best in the northern half of the United States
in situations where the rainfall is well distributed throughout the
growing season. On the other hand, cannabis, licorice, and wormseed
are better suited to the warmer climate of the southern half of the
United States. Aletris, althaea, angelica, calamus, orris, pinkroot,
peppermint, serpentaria, and spearmint are adapted generally for
situations in which the soil is rich and moist, but lavender and
larkspur are partial to well-drained sandy soil. Ginseng and goldenseal
occur naturally on rich soil in the partial shade of forest trees and
can be cultivated successfully only when planted in woodlands or in
specially prepared soil under artificial shade (fig. 1).



GENERAL CULTURAL SUGGESTIONS.


The special details of cultivation for each of the medicinal plants
mentioned are given under the discussion of the individual species.
Suggestions which are of general application, however, are here brought
together, in order to avoid unnecessary duplication.

_Propagation._--A number of the species considered later can be grown
easily from seed, but others are best propagated from cuttings or
by division. Many wild medicinal plants are much more difficult to
propagate from seeds than the species commonly grown in gardens.
Likewise, some of the species now grown abroad and suitable for
cultivation in this country are not easily propagated and require
special conditions if good results are to be realized.

[Illustration: Fig. 1.--Lath shed affording partial shade, especially
well suited for growing woodland plants.]

Seeds of the better-known varieties of medicinal plants are regularly
listed in the catalogues of numerous seed houses, and those which are
less common can usually be obtained from dealers who make a specialty
of one or more of these species. Plants can frequently be obtained from
nurseries or from dealers in hardy ornamentals. The catalogues of a
number of dealers should be consulted and the varieties for propagation
carefully selected. In ordering, the medicinal variety should always be
called for, since many of the related ornamental forms which are listed
are of doubtful, if any, medicinal value.

_Sowing the seed._--A relatively small number of medicinal plants can
be satisfactorily grown from seed sown in the field. In many cases this
method is quite uncertain and with some plants wholly inadvisable.
In order to insure a good stand of thrifty plants it is frequently
necessary to make the sowings in a greenhouse, hotbed, or coldframe
and at a suitable time transplant the seedlings to the field. Much
information on seed germination, hotbeds, and coldframes can be gained
by consulting Farmers' Bulletins 934, 937, and 1044, entitled,
respectively, "Home Gardening in the South," "The Farm Garden, in the
North," and "The City Home Garden."[1]

[1] These publications can be obtained free of charge upon application
to the Secretary of Agriculture, Washington, D. C.

The preparation of the soil is of prime importance, whether the sowing
of the seed is made in the open or under cover. Many seeds, especially
those which are very small, do not germinate well in heavy soils or in
those which are cloddy and coarse in texture. A seed bed prepared by
thoroughly mixing equal parts of garden soil, leaf mold, well-rotted
manure, and clean sand will be suitable for the germination of most
seeds.

The depth of sowing is largely governed by the size of the seeds and
the character of the soil. In general, the smaller the seed the less
the depth of sowing. Seed should be covered more deeply in light
sandy soil than in heavy clay soil. Fall-sown seeds also require a
greater depth of covering than those sown in the spring. The exact
quantity of seed which should be used for sowing a given area can not
be definitely stated. The same kind of seed will be found to vary
widely in its power to germinate; hence, the percentage of germination
should be ascertained in advance of sowing and the quantity regulated
accordingly. In general, the heavier the soil the larger the quantity
of seed required. If the plants are to be thinned out or transplanted,
or if they are especially subject to the attacks of insects, the free
use of seed is usually advisable.

When plantings are made in open ground it is preferable to sow the
seed in rows or drills, in order that cultivation of the soil may be
possible. A shallow furrow may be opened with a rake or hand hoe and
the seed sown by hand. The rake or hoe may then be used to cover the
seed with the required depth of soil. It is much more satisfactory
to use seed drills, such as are commonly used by market gardeners,
than to sow by hand, since with the drill the depth of sowing is more
uniform and the soil is compacted over the seeds, thus favoring good
germination. The distance between the rows is determined in part by the
size which the plants attain at maturity, but depends chiefly upon the
method of cultivation to be used. A spacing of 9 to 16 inches between
the rows will readily permit hand cultivation, but the rows should be
about 3 feet apart if horse-drawn implements are employed.

_Cultivation._--There are no set rules for the cultivation of medicinal
plants, and the grower's experience with other plants must be relied
upon as a guide in many of the details of cultivation. As a general
rule, the soil should be worked with the hoe or cultivator at frequent
intervals and kept free from weeds. It is a good practice to cultivate
after a hard rain as soon as the ground is sufficiently dry. During
dry, hot weather loss of moisture from the soil will be diminished by
frequent shallow cultivations.



HARVESTING.


Drug roots are usually harvested in the fall or at the end of the
growing season of the plant, but they may also be harvested early in
the spring while still dormant. Roots collected during the growing
season often shrink excessively in drying and so do not form the most
desirable product. On small areas either a spade or a potato fork is
a suitable tool for digging most roots; but if the area is large,
labor will be saved by using a plow to turn out the roots, especially
with such crops as belladonna or burdock. Most roots require thorough
washing, and when the quantity is large this may be easily done if the
roots are placed on a frame covered with wire mesh and water is applied
by means of a garden hose.

All roots must be thoroughly dried. Large or fleshy roots are usually
split or sliced, spread in thin layers on clean floors, and stirred
or turned frequently. Good ventilation is essential, as several weeks
usually elapse before the roots are dry enough to be stored with
safety. The proper point of dryness is indicated when the roots break
readily on being bent. The time of drying may be reduced to a few
days by the use of artificial heat. For this purpose the walls of a
well-inclosed room are fitted with racks or shelves to receive the
roots, or large trays with bottoms made of slats or wire screen are
suspended one above the other from the ceiling. The room is heated
by a stove, and the temperature maintained between 125° and 150° F.
Ventilators must be provided at the top of the room to carry away the
moisture which is driven off from the roots. Ordinary fruit driers have
been used successfully in drying roots on, a small scale, but special
drying houses or kilns will be necessary for successfully handling
crops grown on an acreage basis.

Leaves and herbs are usually harvested when the plants are in flower.
Picking the leaves by hand in the field is a slow process, and time may
be saved by cutting the entire plant and stripping the leaves after
the plants have been brought in from the field. If the entire herb is
wanted, it is preferable to top the plants, for if they are cut too
close to the ground the herb will have to be picked over by hand and
all the coarse stems removed. As a rule, leaves and herbs may be dried
in the same manner as roots, but almost without exception they are
dried without exposure to the sun, in order that the green color may be
retained so far as possible.

Some flowers are gathered while scarcely open and others as soon after
opening as possible, and in general they should be carefully dried in
the shade to prevent discoloration. Hand picking is very laborious,
and mechanical devices similar to a cranberry scoop (fig. 2) or seed
stripper (fig. 3) may often be used to good advantage. A homemade
picker may be constructed as follows: From a stout wooden box, about
10 inches wide, 14 inches long, and 6 inches deep, remove one end and
connect the opposite remaining sides at the top with a stout strip,
which will serve as a handle. Drive long, slender wire nails through
an inch strip of wood at quarter-inch intervals, thus forming a "comb"
the teeth of which should be about 2 inches long. This comb is fastened
to the bottom of the box in such a manner that the teeth will project
outward through the opening left by the removed end. On swinging this
device, teeth forward, through the flowers, the heads will be snapped
off by the comb and will fall into the box, from which they may be
emptied into suitable containers.

[Illustration: Fig. 2.--A berry scoop suitable for harvesting flower
heads of large size.]

[Illustration: Fig. 3.--A seed stripper which may be used for gathering
flower heads.]

Seeds are harvested as soon as most of them have ripened and before
the pods or seed capsules have opened. Seedlike fruits, such as anise,
coriander, fennel, and wormseed r are harvested a little before
they are fully ripe, in order that they may retain a bright, fresh
appearance, which adds to their market value. The machinery used for
thrashing and cleaning ordinary seed crops will frequently serve a
similar purpose for seeds of medicinal plants, provided the proper
adjustments have been made. Most seeds must be spread out to dry and
turned at intervals until thoroughly dried before they can be stored in
quantity.



DISTILLATION.


The volatile oil obtained from many aromatic plants by steam
distillation is often their most valuable product. The equipment
necessary for distilling volatile oils consists essentially of a steam
boiler, a retort, and a condenser. A constant supply of cold water
must also be available. A common type of retort consists of a circular
wooden vat, about 6 feet in diameter and 8 to 10 feet deep (fig. 4),
fitted with a removable cover, which can be made steam tight. Metal
retorts made of boiler iron three-sixteenths of an inch thick and
jacketed with wood to prevent the radiation of heat are also used.
A pipe leads from the steam boiler to the bottom of the retort and
another from the top of the retort to the condenser, one form of which
consists of a coil of tin-lined or galvanized-iron pipe inclosed in a
jacket through which cold water is kept flowing when the still is in
operation.

[Illustration: Fig. 4.--A still used in the production of wormwood oil.]

When the retort is filled with aromatic plants and steam is admitted
through the pipe from the boiler, the volatile oil is extracted in
the form of a vapor, which is carried over with the steam to the
condenser, where both are condensed to liquid form. The oil and water
together flow from the condenser into the receiver, one type of which
is constructed like an ordinary milk can and is fitted with a siphon
leading from the bottom, through which the water is drawn off to
prevent the receiver from overflowing.

Many volatile oils will float on the water and may be drawn off from
the top of the receiver at will. Other oils, such as sassafras and
wintergreen, are heavier than water, and should be collected in a
receiver provided at the bottom with an outlet tap through which the
oil may be drawn off.

The cost of setting up a still will depend upon what facilities are
already at hand and upon the size and efficiency of the apparatus
installed. It may easily range from a small sum to several thousand
dollars.



YIELD.


The yield that can be obtained from drug plants in different localities
will naturally vary according to the suitability of the situation for
the plants selected for cultivation. Even in the same locality wide
variations in yield will result from differences in the lay of the land
and in soil, drainage, and seasonal conditions. The skill of the grower
and the degree of care and attention which he bestows upon his crop are
also factors affecting yield.

Many of the drug plants mentioned in this bulletin have not been
grown on a scale large enough to give a very satisfactory basis for
calculating yields. Acreage yields calculated from the product of small
garden plats are generally untrustworthy, since in such plats the
plants are usually more favorably situated with respect to soil and are
given better culture than when under field conditions. Moreover, as the
area increases, it becomes more difficult to maintain an approximately
perfect stand and to protect the crop from the ravages of insects or
other destructive agencies. The returns from small experimental areas
can at most be regarded as only an indication of the yield that may be
expected under favorable conditions, and the prospective grower will
do well to proceed cautiously until he has determined for himself the
possibilities of yield in his particular location.



MARKETING.


The commercial grower of drug plants can not give too much attention to
the problem of securing a satisfactory market for his product. Growers
who live near the cities in which dealers in crude drugs are located
or in sections where wild medicinal plants are collected may be able
to find a local market, but in many situations the local marketing of
crude drugs in quantity will not be possible. In such cases the grower
should send samples of his product to dealers in crude drugs or to
manufacturers of pharmaceutical preparations and request them to name
a price at which they would purchase his crop. The material for the
samples should not be specially selected or so prepared as to represent
a quality higher than that of the whole lot, since this would give the
purchaser just cause for making a reduction in price on delivery or for
rejecting the whole shipment. It is well to send samples to a number
of dealers, since their prices will be found to vary with the stock on
hand and trade prospects. Before selling, the state of the wholesale
drug market should be learned. The prices to producers are, of course,
always lower than the wholesale price; nevertheless, the grower who is
informed in respect to the wholesale market will be in a position to
judge of the fairness of the prices offered for his crop by dealers.

Under special conditions some crude drugs can be sold at a material
advance over the prevailing market price. By always supplying a
well-prepared, carefully selected drug of high quality some growers
have built up a trade in their particular product for which they secure
extra good prices. Dealers and manufacturers also sometimes make
contracts with reliable growers to take the entire crop of a particular
drug, thus insuring to the grower a definite market and good prices for
the product.



COMMERCIAL PROSPECTS.


At the close of the year 1919 there existed a general and widespread
shortage in botanical crude drugs, and prices in consequence had
reached unusually high levels. The demand in other lines for unskilled
labor at high wages has attracted elsewhere many persons who were
formerly engaged in the collection or production of botanic drugs in
this country. It is therefore probable that prices for most crude drugs
will remain at a high level until the prices of other commodities
undergo a general reduction and the present supply of labor greatly
increases.

Although the average value of crude drugs, expressed in terms of
money, has more than doubled since 1913, it does not follow that
their production offers a corresponding increase in profit to the
producer. The prices of food and clothing, labor, and supplies of
all kinds have for the most part more than doubled in the same time
and the prospective producer of crude drugs will do well to consider
carefully the comparative prices of the necessities of life which he
must purchase before he engages in this enterprise. The unusually high
prices now offered for many crude drugs are due to the underproduction,
which has resulted largely from labor conditions and do not necessarily
indicate any large increase in the demand for consumption. In view of
the present disturbed economic conditions and the uncertainty as to the
future course of prices, the general stimulation of drug growing in
this country does not appear to be the best policy at this time.

However desirable it may be to increase the available supply of
crude drugs or to diminish the amount of money now sent to foreign
countries for these products, the most important consideration for
the American farmer who would grow drug plants is the probable
profit to be derived from such an enterprise. Many statements to the
contrary notwithstanding, the commercial production of crude drugs
does not normally present unusual opportunities for quick returns and
large profits. Knowledge respecting the cultivation and handling of
medicinal-plant crops is far less widespread than in the case of such
generally distributed crops as fruits, vegetables, and cereals, and
certain individuals have taken advantage of this lack of information
to lead the public to believe that extraordinary profits may be
realized from growing medicinal plants, even in a situation no more
promising than the average city back yard. Such persons are interested
usually only in the sale of the plants and seeds for propagation or
the questionable directions for their cultivation, and the extravagant
claims often set forth in their alluring advertisements are not only
misleading, but frequently have little basis in fact.

The market demand for any given crude drug is naturally a large factor
in determining the prospects for its commercial production under
cultivation. The demand for a number of drugs is quite variable or
exceedingly limited, and hence insufficient to make it advisable to
raise them on a large scale. In the case of other drugs, although
the demand is fairly constant and steady, it could probably be fully
satisfied by the product of a very few acres of good land. It is
evident that the cultivation of any considerable acreage might easily
result in overproduction, with a consequent decline in market price to
a point where production would not be profitable.

The cultivation of drug plants, to be successful in this country, will
probably require the introduction of improved methods and the extensive
use of machinery to replace hand labor so far as possible. Growers
of mints and numerous other plants yielding essential oils will find
it desirable to equip themselves with a suitable distilling plant,
although the latter can not be operated most economically when only a
small quantity of material is available for distillation. The natural
tendency will be to increase the acreage in the interest of more
efficient operation, but here again there is danger of overproduction,
and prospective growers should thoroughly acquaint themselves with
market conditions before bringing very large areas under cultivation.

Very few, if any, drug plants are used in quantities sufficient to make
them a promising crop for general cultivation. Many of the common ones,
which can be grown and prepared for market with little difficulty,
bring but a few cents a pound, and their cultivation offers little
prospect of profit. A number of the high-priced drug plants must be
given care for two or more years before a crop can be harvested, and,
since expensive equipment is usually required for their successful
culture, the production of such crops offers little encouragement to
inexperienced growers who are looking for quick returns and large
profits from a small investment. The production of drugs of high
quality requires skilled management, experience in special methods of
plant culture, acquaintance with trade requirements, and a knowledge of
the influence of time of collection and manner of preparation on the
constituents of the drug which determine its value. Small quantities
of drugs produced without regard to these conditions are apt to be
poor in quality and so unattractive to dealers and manufacturers that
the product will not be salable at a price sufficient to make their
production profitable. In general, the conditions in this country seem
far more favorable to the growing of drug plants as a special industry
for well-equipped cultivators than as a side crop for general farmers
or those whose chief interest lies in the production of other crops.

Although a number of plants which yield products used as crude drugs
are common farm weeds, they usually occur in scattered situations and
in such small quantities that their collection would scarcely prove
profitable for the farmer. Even when relatively abundant it is a matter
for careful consideration whether the time and labor necessary for
their collection might not be otherwise employed to better advantage.
Moreover, it is not always easy to distinguish medicinal plants from
others of similar appearance, and collectors not infrequently find that
they have spent their time in gathering plants practically worthless as
crude drugs. In proportion to the labor required in their collection,
relatively low prices are paid for most crude drugs obtained from wild
plants, and the farmer who turns to drug collecting as a source of
additional revenue will probably meet with disappointment.



THE CULTIVATION AND HANDLING OF DRUG PLANTS.


The following cultural directions and suggestions regarding the
handling of a number of drug plants have been compiled in part from the
records of the Office of Drug, Poisonous, and Oil Plant Investigations
and include data secured by various members of the staff of that office
connected with testing gardens in several widely separated localities.
The probable yields per acre are in many cases estimates calculated
from smaller areas, and considerable variation from the figures given
must be expected in actual practice. The prices mentioned are given
merely to indicate the comparative value of the products concerned and
not to fix the actual price which the grower of drug plants may expect
to receive. This will depend very largely upon the state of the market
at the time the crop is offered for sale.

The plants mentioned in the following pages were selected for
discussion because information regarding their cultivation is in
constant demand. The purpose of this bulletin is not to recommend
these plants for cultivation, but to give information concerning
their culture which may be helpful to persons who are considering the
production of drug plants on a commercial scale.[2]

[2] For information in regard to weeds used in medicine not herein
considered, see Farmers' Bulletin No. 188, which may be obtained from
the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, for 5
cents.



ALETRIS.


Aletris, star-grass, or true unicorn root (_Aletris farinosa_, fig.
5) is a native perennial herb of the lily family, found occasionally
on sandy soil throughout the eastern half of the United States; also
frequently occurring in the pine and oak barrens of Alabama and
Tennessee and elsewhere in the South. The root is used medicinally.

[Illustration: Fig. 5.--Aletris (_Aletris farinosa_).]

Aletris is a slow-growing plant which seems to thrive best on a moist
and sandy soil. It may be propagated either by division of the root
stocks or from seeds. The seeds mature late in the summer, and should
be sown soon after ripening, in a well-prepared and protected seed bed.
In the following spring the seedlings may be transplanted to their
permanent situation and set about a foot apart in rows 20 inches or
more apart. The soil about the plants should be stirred frequently and
kept free from weeds.

The root, consisting of a short horizontal rootstock bearing numerous
small rootlets, may be harvested in the fall of the second or third
year. In preparing the root for market the stem and leaves are broken
off and the dirt is removed by shaking (or washing, if necessary),
after which it is well dried. There are no available data on the
probable yield. The prewar prices paid to collectors for aletris
usually ranged from 12 to 25 cents a pound. The prices in June, 1920,
were about 70 cents a pound.



ACONITE.


Aconite (_Aconitum napellus_) is a hardy perennial, introduced from
Europe and sparingly grown in this country as an ornamental garden
plant. Both leaves and roots are very poisonous, the latter forming the
official drug. Other varieties than _Aconitum napellus_ are also grown
in flower gardens, and several species occur wild in the United States.
Since the official species readily hybridizes with related varieties,
often to the detriment of its medicinal properties, it is frequently
difficult to secure seed which will come true to name.

Aconite seems to thrive best in a rather cool climate and will grow in
any rich garden soil, but a well-drained gravelly loam in an elevated
situation appears most suited for the cultivation of this plant. It
may be grown from seed sown in the open late in the fall or early in
the spring, or plants may be started in a seed bed and the seedlings
later transplanted and set about a foot apart in rows 2 feet apart. The
preferable method of propagation is by division of the roots after the
stems have died down in the fall, since thereby hybridization may be
avoided.

The plants usually flower in the second year from seed, when the roots
may be harvested. It is preferable, however, to defer harvesting until
the stems have died down in the fall, when all the roots should be dug,
the smaller reserved for planting and the larger ones washed, sliced
lengthwise, and dried. The leaves are also harvested, but are not in
much demand.

Reliable data on yield are not available, although some estimates
place the yield at about 450 pounds of dry root per acre. The American
market is supplied with imported aconite root, for which the prewar
price ranged from about 9 to 15 cents a pound. The price in June,
1920, ranged from 60 to 62 cents a pound. The quantity imported in
1919 was about 35,000 pounds. The demand for this drug is limited, and
this fact, together with the probable low yield, makes its profitable
cultivation in this country very doubtful.



ALTHAEA.


Althaea, or marshmallow (_Althaea officinalis_), is a perennial herb
introduced from Europe which now grows wild in marshy places near
the sea in Massachusetts and along tidal rivers in New York and
Pennsylvania. The root forms the official drug, but the leaves and
flowers also are sometimes used medicinally.

Althaea will grow well in almost any loose garden soil of moderate
fertility, but tends to winterkill in situations where the ground
freezes to a considerable depth. The plants may be propagated from
seeds or from divisions of the old roots made early in the spring.
The seed may be sown in the open in shallow drills at least 3 feet
apart, and the seedlings should be thinned to stand 16 inches apart in
the row. Under good conditions the plants attain a height of 3 or 4
feet; therefore, close planting does not give sufficient room for full
development.

In the second year of growth the roots are harvested, washed, peeled,
cut into short lengths, and thoroughly dried. Yields at the rate of 800
to 1,000 pounds of dry root per acre have been obtained. The prewar
wholesale price usually ranged from 12 to 20 cents a pound. The price
in June, 1920, was 25 to 27 cents a pound. The annual importation of
this root averages about 30,000 pounds. In view of the amount of hand
labor required in preparing the root, the relatively low price, and the
rather limited demand, the cultivation of this plant for profit is not
very attractive.



ANGELICA.


Angelica (_Angelica officinalis_) is a European biennial plant of the
parsley family, sometimes grown in this country as a culinary herb and
known commonly as garden angelica. The fresh stems and leafstalks are
used as a garnish and for making a candied confection. The seeds and
the oil distilled from them are employed in flavoring, and the aromatic
roots are sometimes used in medicine.

Angelica thrives best in a moderately cool climate and may be grown in
any good soil, although a deep, fairly rich loam which is moist but
well drained will give the best results. The soil should be deeply
plowed and well prepared before planting. The plant is most readily
propagated from divisions of old roots, which may be set either in the
fall or spring about 18 inches apart in rows. The seeds germinate very
poorly if more than one year old, and it is best to sow them as soon
as they are ripe in a seed bed, which should be kept moist by frequent
watering if necessary. Early in the following spring the seedlings are
transplanted and set about 2 feet apart each way in their permanent
location. Plants may also be obtained from seeds sown in March in
a spent hotbed or in a cold frame. In order to increase the root
development, the plants are often transplanted a second time, at the
end of the first year's growth, and set 3 or 4 feet apart. For the same
reason the tops are often cut back to prevent the formation of seed.
During the growing seasons the soil should be kept mellow and free from
weeds by frequent cultivation.

The roots are usually harvested in the fall of the second year, but
sometimes those of the first-year plants are marketed. After being dug,
the roots are washed and dried in the open air. In order to keep out
insects and to preserve the aroma it is best to store the dried root in
tin containers which can be tightly closed. The root of the European
or garden angelica found in our drug markets is imported largely from
Germany. During the past few years the wholesale price has averaged
about 20 cents a pound.

The root of a native species of angelica (_Angelica atropurpurea_),
commonly called American angelica, also occurs in the drug markets
of this country. It is collected from wild plants, and the price to
collectors in former years usually ranged from 6 to 10 cents a pound.
The prices in June, 1920, were for the seed 20 cents and for the root
14 cents a pound.



ANISE.


Anise (_Pimpinella anisum_) is an annual herb of the parsley family,
widely cultivated in Europe and to a limited extent in this country,
chiefly in Rhode Island. Although this plant may be grown quite
generally throughout the United States, it has been found difficult to
bring the crop to maturity in northerly situations where the growing
season is short or in the South where the climate is hot and dry.
It is grown chiefly for its aromatic seeds (fruits), which are used
medicinally, and also in baking and for flavoring confectionery. The
oil distilled from the seeds is used medicinally in cordials, and also
for flavoring various beverages.

Anise thrives best in a light, moderately rich, and well-drained loam
which has been carefully prepared before planting. It is grown from
seeds, which are usually sown early in the spring directly in the
field, since the seedlings are unfavorably affected by transplanting.
The seeds, which should not be more than 2 years old, are sown thickly,
about two to the inch, and covered one-half inch deep. Since the plants
develop very slowly, seed should not be sown in weedy soil. When the
seedlings are 2 to 3 inches high they are thinned to stand 6 inches
apart in the row. The rows may be 18 inches or 3 feet apart, depending
on the cultivation intended. An ounce of seed should sow a row 150 feet
long, and about 5 pounds will plant an acre when the rows are 3 feet
apart. The plants should receive frequent and thorough cultivation
throughout the growing season.

About three months from the time of planting the plants will blossom,
and a month later the seed should be matured sufficiently for
harvesting. As soon as the tips of the seeds turn a grayish green color
they should be harvested, for if allowed to remain exposed to the
weather they quickly turn brown or blacken. The plants may be pulled by
hand and stacked, tops inward, in heaps about 6 feet high, or they may
be mowed and at once built up into cocks of the same height. In about
four or five days the seed will have ripened, after which it should be
thrashed out and thoroughly cleaned.

Yields of anise seed are quite variable, since the plant is very
sensitive to unfavorable weather conditions. In a good season from 400
to 600 pounds per acre may be reasonably expected. The prewar wholesale
price usually ranged from 6 to 8 cents a pound. The prices in June,
1920, ranged from 19 to 30 cents a pound. During the war the average
annual importation of 500 tons was reduced to about 180 tons.



ARNICA.


Arnica (_Arnica montana_) is a herbaceous perennial plant of the aster
family, native in northern and central Europe, where it thrives in the
cool climate of the mountain meadows and upland moors. The flowers,
leaves, and roots are employed in medicine.

Arnica requires a marshy soil, abundant rainfall, and a cool climate
for its best development. It is propagated by divisions of the roots
or from seeds sown either in the fall or the spring. Seed may also be
sown in August in a seed bed and the plants transplanted the following
spring to stand about 18 inches apart in the row. The flowers may be
harvested the second year and the roots after three or four years.

Arnica is not produced commercially in the United States, and the small
quantity imported annually is apparently sufficient to meet the market
demands. Its cultivation presents many difficulties, and efforts to
grow it in the milder portions of this country have generally proved
unsuccessful.



BELLADONNA.


Belladonna, or deadly nightshade (_Atropa belladonna_), is a large,
poisonous perennial which occurs wild in Europe, where it is also
cultivated. Both the leaves and the roots are important crude drugs. In
recent years it has been cultivated to some extent in this country, but
is likely to winterkill in the colder sections.

Belladonna may be propagated in a small way from cuttings of the young
shoots rooted in moist sand in the usual manner or from divisions of
the fleshy rootstocks made early in the spring, but it is most readily
grown from seeds which may be thinly sown in pots or well-drained boxes
in a cool greenhouse in midwinter or in a sheltered place in a garden
early in the spring. When the seedlings are large enough to handle they
should be transplanted singly to small pots or pricked out in flats or
shallow boxes of light, rich soil, placing them about 2 inches apart
each way, as with tomato or other vegetable plants intended for field
planting. In the spring, as soon as danger from frost is over, they
should be transplanted to the field and set about 20 inches apart in
rows 30 or more inches apart Sowing seeds in the field or transplanting
directly from the seed bed to the field has rarely given good results
in this country. Belladonna seeds are small, and if well handled under
glass or in protected seed beds 1 ounce should produce 10,000 or more
plants, sufficient to set an acre.

Belladonna thrives best in deep, moist, well-drained loam containing
lime, such as will under proper fertilization produce good garden
vegetables. The preparation of the soil should be very thorough
and consists of deep plowing, either in the fall or early spring,
and repeated working with the disk or spring-tooth and smoothing
harrows. Weeds should be kept under control at all times and the
soil stirred with a hoe or cultivator at intervals of about 10 days,
particularly after each hard rain, and shallow cultivation given in
hot, dry weather to conserve the natural moisture of the soil. Good
commercial fertilizers, such as are commonly used in truck gardens, are
beneficial. Those containing 8 per cent of phosphoric acid, 4 per cent
of nitrogen, and 4 per cent of potash are the most desirable and should
be applied at the rate of about 600 pounds per acre. Stable manure at
the rate of 12 to 20 tons to the acre may be used if plowed under when
the ground is prepared.

Belladonna is sometimes affected by a wilt disease, which is aggravated
by wet soils and fresh animal manures, and the foliage is greedily
attacked by the potato beetle. Dusting with lime, spot, or road dust
in the morning when the leaves are wet with dew is occasionally
effective. The destructive attacks of these pests are usually confined
to the seed bed or to first-year plantings, but the insects may be
controlled by the careful use of insecticides.

The leaves are picked when the plants are in full bloom. They should be
carefully handled, to avoid bruising, and dried in the shade in order
to retain their green color. A hundred pounds of fresh leaves yield
about 18 pounds when well dried. One crop only can be collected the
year of planting, but two crops are gathered in each of the next two or
three years, after which it appears better to market the roots and make
new plantings. While only the leaves should be collected for the best
pharmaceutical trade, the young growth, including the smaller sappy
twigs, has medicinal value and may be sheared from the plants and dried
in the same manner as the leaves. The ease of collection and increased
weight of material may render the latter method more profitable.

The roots alone are not as profitable as the leaves. The best roots
are those of the second and third year's growth. They are harvested in
the fall after frost, the tops being mowed and raked off and the roots
turned out with a deep-running plow, or with a potato fork if the area
be small. They are carefully washed and cut into about 4-inch lengths,
the larger pieces being split lengthwise to aid in drying. Thorough
drying either in the sun or with mild artificial heat is essential;
otherwise, the roots will mold when stored.

The high prices paid for belladonna during the war greatly stimulated
the cultivation of this crop, which had previously been grown with some
success in California, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and
some other States. In 1918, 273 acres of belladonna were harvested,
the total production being about 83 tons of herb (including leaves and
stems), an average of 600 pounds per acre. From 136 acres 11 tons of
root were harvested, an average of 164 pounds per acre. The marketing
of this crop was followed by a decline in prices, the quotations in
June, 1920, being 30 to 35 cents a pound for the herb and 55 cents a
pound for the root.



BLUE FLAG.


Blue flag (_Iris versicolor_) is a native perennial plant of common
occurrence in swamps and marshy situations throughout the eastern half
of the United States. The underground stem (rhizome) and roots are the
parts of the plant used medicinally.

Blue flag responds readily to cultivation when placed in a rich, moist,
and rather heavy soil. It is readily propagated from divisions of old
plants, which may be set 1 foot apart in rows spaced conveniently for
cultivation. If the plants are set in August or September, the crop
may be harvested about, the last of October in the following year.
The roots may be turned out with a deep-running plow, and after being
thoroughly washed and the larger clusters broken up they should be
thoroughly dried. Artificial drying at low heat is usually desirable.

Yields at the rate of 3 or 4 tons of dried root per acre have been
obtained from small plats. The prewar price paid to collectors varied
from year to year and usually ranged from 5 to 10 cents a pound. The
price in June, 1920, was 35 cents a pound. This crop does not appear to
be very promising, owing to the relatively small demand for the root



BONESET.


Boneset (_Eupatorium perfoliatum_) is a hardy, rather long-lived
perennial plant commonly found growing in low grounds throughout the
eastern half of the United States. The dried leaves and flowering tops
form the official drug.

Divisions of clumps of wild plants collected early in the fall will
serve for propagation. These may be set about a foot apart in rows in
well-prepared soil. During the first winter the newly set divisions
should be protected with a light mulch of straw or manure. Plants may
also be grown from seeds, which should be collected as soon as ripe and
sown in shallow drills about 8 inches apart in a rich, moist seed bed,
preferably in partial shade. When of sufficient size they may be set in
the field at about the same distance as the divided clumps.

The plants are cut late in the summer when in full bloom and the
leaves and flowering tops stripped from the stem by hand and carefully
dried without exposure to the sun. Yields of well-cultivated boneset
are quite large and 2,000 pounds or more per acre of dry herb may be
obtained under favorable conditions. The prewar price for boneset
rarely exceeded 2 to 3 cents a pound. The price in June, 1920, was 12
to 13 cents a pound. Since the demand is limited and the wild supply
fairly available, the cultivation of boneset does not offer much
prospect of profit.



BURDOCK.


Burdock (_Arctium lappa_) is a large biennial plant well known as a
common and troublesome weed in the Eastern and Central States and in
some western localities. The dried root from plants of the first year's
growth forms the official drug, but the seeds and leaves are also used
medicinally.

Burdock will grow in almost any soil, but the best root development is
favored by a light well-drained soil rich in humus. The seeds germinate
readily and may be sown directly in the field, either late in the fall
or early in the spring. The seed may be sown in drills 18 inches or 3
feet apart, as desired, and should be sown 1 inch deep if in the fall,
but less deeply if sown in the spring. When the seedlings are well
up they should be thinned to stand about 6 inches apart in the row.
Cultivation should continue as long as the size of the plants will
permit.

The roots are harvested at the end of the first year's growth in order
to secure the most acceptable drug and also to prevent the plants from
bearing seed and spreading as a weed. The tops of the plants may be
cut with a mower and raked off, after which the roots can usually be
turned out with a deep-running plow or with a beet lifter. In a dry and
very sandy soil the roots frequently extend to a depth of 2 or 3 feet,
making it necessary to dig them by hand. After digging, any remaining
tops are removed and the roots are washed and dried, the drying being
preferably by the use of low artificial heat. The roots are usually
split lengthwise into two or more pieces in order to facilitate drying,
although whole roots are marketable.

Yields at the rate of 1,500 to 2,000 pounds of dry roots per acre have
been obtained. The prewar prices offered by dealers ranged from 4 to 6
cents a pound. The prices for the root and seed in June, 1920, were 12
cents a pound each.



CALAMUS.


Calamus, or sweet flag (_Acorus calamus_), is a native perennial
plant, occurring frequently along streams and in the edges of swamps
throughout the eastern half of the United States. The dried root
(rhizome or rootstock) is the part used as a drug.

Although calamus in a wild state is usually found growing in water, it
may be cultivated in almost any good soil which is fairly moist. It
usually does well on moderately dry upland soils which will produce
fair crops of corn or potatoes. The plants are readily propagated from
divisions of old roots, which should be set early in the fall 1 foot
apart in rows and well covered. During the following growing season
the plants should receive frequent and thorough cultivation.

The roots are harvested in the fall and may be readily dug with a spade
or turned out with a plow. The tops, together with about an inch of the
rootstock, are next cut off and used to make new plantings. The roots
are washed and dried artificially at a moderately low degree of heat.
The marketable product consists of the thick rootstocks deprived of
their small rootlets often called "fibers." These may be removed before
drying, but more easily afterwards, since when dry and brittle they
break off readily with a little handling. Roots thus treated are often
called "stripped" and are more aromatic than those which have been
peeled.

Yields at the rate of 2,000 pounds of dry roots per acre have been
obtained. The prewar price for the unpeeled root usually ranged from
3 to 5 cents a pound. The prices in June, 1920, were 10 to 12 cents a
pound. The annual importation of calamus root ranges from 5 to 10 tons.



CALENDULA.


Calendula, or pot marigold (_Calendula officinalis_), is a hardy annual
plant native to southern Europe, but frequently grown in flower gardens
in this country. The dried flower heads are sometimes used in soups
and stews, and the so-called petals (ligulate florets) are employed in
medicine.

Calendula grows well on a variety of soils, but a moderately rich
garden loam will give the best results. The seed may be sown in open
ground early in the spring in drills 18 inches apart. As soon as the
seedlings are well established they should be thinned to stand about
a foot apart in the row. In the North it is desirable to sow the seed
about the first of April in coldframes or spent hotbeds and transplant
the young seedlings as soon as the danger of frost is past.

The plants blossom early and continue to bloom throughout the summer.
The flowers are gathered at intervals of a few days and carefully
dried. The petals (florets) which form the drug may be removed either
before or after the flower heads are dried. The petals are removed by
hand, but this process requires so much time that when the cost of the
necessary labor is taken into account it is doubtful whether the price
received for the drug would cover the cost of production.

The dried whole flowers produced in this country were quoted in the
wholesale markets in June, 1920, at 25 cents to $1 a pound, according
to quality; the petals, at $1.95 to $2.10 a pound.



CAMOMILE, GERMAN.


German camomile (_Matricaria chamomilla_) is a European annual herb of
the aster family, cultivated in this country in gardens, from which
it has escaped in some localities. The dried flower heads are used in
medicine.

This species of camomile does well on moderately heavy soil which is
rich in humus and rather moist. Since the plants bloom about eight
weeks after sowing the seed, a crop of camomile may be grown from seed
sown either early in the spring or late in the summer, following early
vegetable crops. The seed may be sown in drills and barely covered or
may be broadcast, since the plants will soon occupy the ground and
exclude the weeds. When the plants are In full bloom the flower heads
are gathered and may be spread thinly on canvas sheets and dried in
the sun. All leaves and stems should be removed, and when the flowers
are thoroughly dry they should be packed for market in boxes or bales
rather than in bags, since in the latter the flowers are likely to be
badly broken in handling.

Returns from experimental areas indicate that a yield of about 400
pounds of dry flowers per acre may be expected under favorable
conditions. Prewar wholesale prices usually ranged from about 15 to 40
cents a pound. The prices in June, 1920, were 41 to 43 cents a pound.



CAMOMILE, ROMAN.


Roman camomile (also called English camomile, _Anthemis nobilis_) is a
European perennial herb of the aster family, frequently cultivated in
gardens in this country and sometimes found growing wild. In America,
camomile is grown chiefly as an ornamental plant, especially for use in
borders, since the plants blossom from midsummer until killed by frost.
The dried flower heads from cultivated plants are used in medicine.

Camomile grows well in almost any good, rather dry soil which has full
exposure to the sun. The plants may be grown from seeds or propagated
by dividing the roots early in the spring. The divisions of the root
may be planted 9 inches apart in rows spaced according to the method of
cultivation to be used. When planted on a small scale the divisions,
or offsets, may be set 9 inches apart each way in carefully prepared
soil. Hand weeding is necessary, but since the plants soon spread and
fully shade the ground, weeds usually have small chance of becoming
troublesome.

The flower heads are gathered just as they open, either by hand or by
means of a flower picker, and are dried in the open in bright weather
or, when necessary, on canvas trays in a heated room. Rapid drying
is essential, as it is desirable to retain the white color as far as
possible.

The yield is variable, but from 400 to 600 pounds of dried flowers
per acre may be expected. The prices for Roman camomile quoted in the
wholesale drug markets of this country prior to the war usually ranged
from about 10 to 12 cents a pound. The prices in June, 1920, were 18
to 20 cents a pound. Since this crop requires much hand labor, its
cultivation in this country on a commercial scale does not promise to
be very profitable.



CAMPHOR.


The camphor tree (_Camphora officinalis_) is a large evergreen, native
to Asia. It is hardy in situations where the winter temperature
does not fall below 15° F., and for many years has been grown as an
ornamental in the southern and southwestern United States. Young trees
suitable for planting as ornamentals may usually be obtained from the
nurseries in Florida and other parts of the South, or they can be
easily grown from fresh seed.

For culture on a commercial scale the climatic requirements of camphor
are practically the same as those of citrus fruits. The tree can
be grown in almost any soil, but the maximum growth is secured in
soils which are rich and well drained. When planted for commercial
cultivation new land is preferable. The following statements are based
upon actual experiments and observations on the growing and production
of camphor under conditions found in Florida.

Camphor seeds ripen about the middle of October and should be planted
while fresh, a better germination being obtained when the pulp is
removed. The seed bed should be selected with care and the precaution
taken to have one that will give sufficient moisture during the dry
season and yet be well drained. For small seed beds of 2 or 3 acres or
less it may be practicable to provide irrigation. Excellent stands of
seedlings have been obtained on slightly rolling land which originally
was covered with "blackjack" oak.

About the first of September, or somewhat earlier if conditions permit,
the land should be well plowed and thoroughly worked down with a disk
harrow. Just before the seeds are planted it should again be worked
over and all roots of Bermuda grass or other weeds removed, since
rapidly growing grasses or weeds will absorb so much moisture from the
soil that the seeds can not germinate.

The seeds begin to ripen during the first part of October and are
usually in a fairly well ripened stage by the last of that month. From
this time until the heavy frosts they can be gathered and planted
with safety. Seeds gathered after heavy frosts have been planted
successfully, but it is not advisable to take the risk of too hard
a freeze. In determining the time to gather seed a simple test is
sufficient. Seeds that fall into the hand when the cluster is slightly
twisted are ripe enough to plant.

In planting, a cotton-dropping machine, modified somewhat to meet the
new requirements, may be used. The machine is set to plant the seeds 2
or 3 inches apart and cover them 1 inch deep in rows far enough apart
to permit horse cultivation. The plants begin to come up in about three
months, but four or five months are often required for a full stand.
As soon as the plants can be distinguished in the rows cultivation is
begun, which at first is done by hand with either a wheel or hand hoe.
Later, as the plants attain size, a horse cultivator can be used, but a
certain amount of handwork is necessary throughout the time the plants
remain in the seed bed. When the plants are well started they should
receive a good application of sheep or goat manure or of high-grade
fertilizer.

The first season a growth of from 3 to 18 inches may be expected,
the irregularity of development depending on the vitality of the
seed, variation in the soil, and numerous other factors. The plants
are allowed to grow in the seed bed usually for a year and are then
transplanted to the field. In transplanting it is customary to separate
the plants into two grades, "sturdy" and "weak," planting each grade
in a field by itself. By doing this the replanting is simplified,
since the sturdy stock requires but few trees for replanting and the
weak stock, which will require considerable replanting, is all in one
section.

Previous to transplanting, the land is well prepared by deep plowing
and thorough harrowing, and rows are laid off 15 feet apart. The young
trees are set in these rows 4 feet apart, either by hand or with a
tree-setting machine. This machine is simply a tobacco-setting machine
fitted with a trench opener set to open a furrow 8 inches deep, in
which the trees are placed. The trees used for transplanting are
headed back to within 1 inch of the crown, and the lower end of the
taproot and all large laterals are removed. The taproot of the tree
as planted is thus reduced in length to 8 or 10 inches and varies in
diameter according to the vitality and previous growth of the seedling.
Transplanting should be done in the winter months, when the trees are
dormant.

Cultivation is begun as soon as the trees put forth shoots in the
spring and continued until the rainy season of each year. After the
rainy season the plants are again cultivated and all grass and weeds
removed. At times cultivation is necessary during the rainy season
in order to keep the trees from becoming smothered and killed by the
fast-growing weeds. One-horse cultivators drawn by mules or a gang
cultivator drawn by a light tractor may be used.

In three or four years, after transplanting, the trees should be from 7
to 8 feet high. They are then trimmed by means of a special machine[3]
to form an =A=-shaped hedge and the trimmings distilled for the oil
and camphor gum. Trimming is carried on when the trees are in the
dormant stage, which is twice each year, usually November to January
and May to June. The summer dormant season is somewhat irregular and
governed entirely by local conditions.

[3] A detailed description of this machine is given in U. S. Dept. of
Agr. Cir. 78, entitled "A Machine for Trimming Camphor Trees." 1920.

The cuttings are hauled from the field to the distilling plant, and if
many large branches are present they are run through a heavy ensilage
cutter. For distillation they are packed in large iron retorts, to
which steam is admitted at the bottom. The outlet pipe of the retort is
connected with a specially constructed condensing apparatus in which
the oil and camphor carried over by the steam are condensed and partly
collected. Portions of oil and camphor not collected in the condenser
are caught in a tub fitted with an outlet siphon which carries away the
excess condensed steam but leaves the oil and camphor behind.

When removed from the condenser the product is very crude, consisting
of a mixture of oil, water, and camphor. This mixture is either thrown
into a centrifuge and the oil and water removed or it is placed in
large cylindrical vats and the oil and water allowed to drain out. The
oil is then separated from the water by means of a siphon. The camphor
and oil are marketed separately.

The annual yield of cuttings has varied from 2 to 5 tons per acre,
which should give approximately 40 to 100 pounds of marketable camphor.
At present the planting of small areas does not seem advisable, in
view of the heavy outlay required for the machinery necessary to
produce camphor gum at a profit. An area of less than 500 acres would
probably not warrant the installation of the machinery necessary for
the commercial production of camphor, and 1,000 acres or more will
doubtless give a greater net return per acre. Although the crop is
a low-priced one, under favorable conditions it is estimated that a
fair return per acre may be expected, but the data so far accumulated
are not sufficient to warrant specific statements concerning the
profitableness of the industry.

Camphor oil, or the oil from which camphor has been removed, is used
in Japan for illuminating purposes, and as a solvent for resins in the
manufacture of lacquer. It is used in Europe for its safrol content,
and may probably be utilized for the same purpose in this country.
There exists already in the American market a demand for the Japanese
oil at prices ranging from 11 to 14 cents per pound.

Camphor imports into the United States usually exceed 3,000,000 pounds
annually; hence, it does not seem probable that there is any danger of
overproduction in the Southern States. However, it is possible that at
times camphor may be imported at a price so low as to render production
in this country financially unprofitable.



CANNABIS.


The drug cannabis or Indian hemp (_Cannabis sativa_), consists of
the dried flowering tops of the female plants. It grows well over a
considerable portion of the United States, but the production of the
active principle of this plant is believed to be favored by a warm
climate. For drug purposes, therefore, this crop appears to be adapted
to the Southern rather than to the Northern States.

Cannabis is propagated from seeds, which should be planted in the
spring as soon as conditions are suitable, in well-prepared sandy of
clayey loam at a depth of about an inch in rows 5 or 6 feet apart. The
seeds may be dropped every two or three inches in the row or planted in
hills about a foot apart in the row, 6 to 10 seeds being dropped into
each hill. Two or three pounds of seed per acre should give a good
stand. About half the seeds will produce male plants, which must be
removed before their flowers mature; otherwise, the female plants will
set seed, thereby diminishing their value as a drug. The male plants
can be recognized with certainty only by the presence of stamens in
their flowers.

Ordinary stable or barnyard manure plowed in deeply is better for use
as a fertilizer than commercial preparations and may be safely applied
at the rate of 20 tons per acre. However, good results may be obtained
with commercial fertilizers, such as are used for truck crops and
potatoes, when cultivated in between the rows at the rate of 500 or 600
pounds per acre.

When the female plants reach maturity, a sticky resin forms on the
heavy, compact flower clusters, and harvesting may then be begun. The
tops of the plants comprising the flower clusters are cut and carefully
dried in the shade to preserve the green color as far as possible.
Drying can best be done, especially in damp weather, by the use of
artificial heat, not to exceed 140° F.

For several years cannabis of standard (U. S. P.) quality has been
grown on a commercial scale in this country, chiefly in South Carolina
and Virginia. After the flowering tops are harvested they are
thoroughly dried under cover, then worked over by hand, and all the
stems and large foliage leaves removed. This process gives a drug of
high quality but greatly reduces the net or marketable yield per acre,
which usually ranges from 350 to 400 pounds. Some growers do not remove
the stems and leaves, thus increasing the acreage yield but reducing
the market value of their product. The quality of cannabis can be
determined only by special laboratory tests, which most dealers are
not equipped to make; consequently, they are usually unwilling to pay
growers as high prices as they would if the low-grade cannabis were
kept off the market.

The market price in June, 1920, for tested (U. S. P.) domestic cannabis
was 30 to 35 cents; for nontested, 20 to 25 cents a pound.



CARAWAY.


Caraway (_Carum carvi_) is a European biennial herb of the parsley
family. It grows and fruits well over a considerable portion of
the United States, especially in the North and Northwest, but its
cultivation in this country seems never to have assumed commercial
proportions. The seeds are used medicinally, but are mainly utilized
for flavoring cakes, confectionery, and similar products. On
distillation with steam, the seeds yield an aromatic oil, which is more
used in medicine than the seed itself.

Soil of a somewhat clayey nature and containing a fair proportion of
humus and available plant food is particularly suited to caraway, but
the plant generally grows well in any good upland soil which will
produce fair crops of corn or potatoes. Seeds should be sown in early
spring in drills about 16 inches apart, and from 6 to 8 pounds of seed
are sown to the acre. Frequent shallow cultivation throughout both
growing seasons is desirable in order to keep the soil mellow and free
from weeds, as a weedy crop at harvest time usually means a product
inferior in quality.

As soon as the oldest seeds ripen, which is usually in June of the
second year, the crop should be harvested. The plants may be cut with
a mower and should be left in the swath until they have lost most of
their moisture, when they may be built up into small cocks, or they may
be brought in from the field and the curing finished in a barn loft.
If on handling in the field the seeds shatter extensively, the crop
should be brought in in tight wagons. When drying is finished the seeds
are thrashed out, cleaned, and stored in bags which contain about 100
pounds each.

Returns from experimental areas indicate that a yield of about
1,000 pounds of seed per acre may be expected. One hundred pounds
of seed will usually yield 4 to 6 pounds of oil. The average annual
importation of caraway seed for several years has been about 2,000,000
pounds, valued at about 9 cents a pound. The war reduced the annual
importations of oil of caraway from 30,000 to 9,000 pounds and
increased the value from 80 cents to about $4.25 a pound.



CASCARA SAGRADA.


Cascara, or cascara sagrada (_Rhamnus purshiana_), is a small tree 20
to 30 feet high, native to the Western part of the United States, and
found most abundantly in a narrow belt along the Pacific slope from
northern California to southern British Columbia. The bark from the
trunk and branches is the source of the drug, for which there is a
constant and steady demand.

Plantings which have been made in the Eastern States indicate that this
tree may probably be grown along the Atlantic slope in the Piedmont or
foothill belt from Pennsylvania to Georgia. The trees have been found
to grow better in clay loam than in either sand or clay. Propagation
from seed is easy, but the seeds should be planted in the fall soon
after they ripen or stratified in sand until used, since germination is
very poor if the seeds are allowed to become dry. The seeds are sown
in a seed bed under shade in drills 8 inches apart and covered about 1
inch deep. The seedlings reach a height of 10 to 15 inches the first
year, and in the following spring before the leaves appear they are
set in the field 6 feet apart each way. It is advisable to cultivate
frequently, in order to keep the weeds down and to maintain a shallow
surface mulch.

If the trees are pruned properly, a crop of bark may be harvested each
year without killing the whole tree, as is done in collecting the bark
from wild trees. At the time of transplanting, the trees are cut back
to a straight stem about a foot high, from which all except the four
uppermost buds are removed. The branches which afterwards develop
from these buds are later deprived of their lower side shoots, thus
causing the tree to grow a head of four long, stout branches instead
of a single straight trunk. When the trees are large enough to yield a
crop of bark, the longest of the four branches is cut off early in the
spring flush with the trunk and a new branch is allowed to grow in its
place. This process may be repeated yearly, removing only the largest
branches of each tree in any one season.

The bark on the cut-off branches is divided with a sharp knife into
lengthwise strips of about an inch or two in width, which may be
readily pulled off. It is then dried carefully at a low temperature
in the shade and broken into small pieces to facilitate packing and
handling.

The price paid to collectors for cascara bark, which before the war
usually varied from 1 to 4 cents a pound, in June, 1920, was about 10
cents a pound. So long as a supply of the wild bark continues to be
available it is doubtful whether cascara can be cultivated at a profit.



CASTOR BEANS.


The castor-oil plant or Palma Christi (_Ricinus communis_) is a robust
perennial in tropical countries which becomes an annual in regions
subject to frost. The seeds of this plant, called "castor beans" or
"mole beans," yield the castor oil of commerce. Between 1860 and 1900,
the castor bean was an important crop in certain sections of Oklahoma,
Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois, but during recent years its culture has
been practically abandoned in favor of crops which are easier to handle
and more profitable.

For the commercial production of castor beans a warm climate and long
growing season are necessary. If planted much farther north than St.
Louis, Mo., or Washington, D. C, the crop is very likely to be caught
by frost. In general, any fertile soil which produces good crops of
cotton or corn is suitable for castor beans, but a very fertile soil
favors the growth of the plant at the expense of seed production
and early maturity. The land is prepared in much the same manner
as for cotton or corn; that is, plowed, disked, and harrowed level
before planting, which may be done by hand or with a corn planter
with specially prepared plates. The seed should be planted early in
the spring, as soon as the soil is warm but still moderately moist.
The time of planting varies according to locality, but in general
corresponds to that of cotton.

The seed is planted in hills at a depth of 1 to 2 inches. Toward the
north, the rows are usually made 4 feet apart and the hills spaced 3
feet apart in the row. Farther south the rows should usually be made
about 6 to 8 feet apart. On very light land the hills may be 4 feet
apart in the row; on heavier land, 6 to 8 feet apart. As a general
rule three seeds are planted to the hill, and not less than two should
be planted. One bushel of medium-sized seed should plant from 5 to 6
acres. When the plants are from 4 to 6 inches tall, the weaker ones
should be removed, leaving one plant in a hill.

The crop is cultivated similar to corn until the plants are large
enough to shade the ground. In case the field becomes foul with
weeds and grass, some hoeing may be necessary, but practically all
the cultivation required can be done with a horse-drawn weeder. Some
varieties in which the beans pop out when the hull is fully ripe are
known locally as "poppers," and after the beans begin to ripen, the
field must be gone over every few days and the ripe beans collected in
order to avoid loss. Other varieties tend to retain the beans in the
hull after they are ripe. The climate affects the popping of the beans,
and a variety which shatters badly in one region may shatter very
little when grown in another.

In harvesting, a common method is to cut off the spikes with a knife
and collect them in large sacks. They are then hauled to a shelter of
some kind and allowed to dry until the pods will crush easily. Various
methods are used in thrashing castor beans. If the variety grown is
one which "pops" or drops its seeds when they are ripe, the spikes are
sometimes piled on a hard ground or plank floor fully exposed to the
sun and furnished with sides of boards or cloth 6 to 8 feet high to
catch the beans as they pop out. In some varieties mere drying does
not cause the pods to open, and specially constructed machines have
been used to remove the beans from the pods. After the beans have been
thrashed or popped out, a fanning mill is used to separate the hulls,
chaff, and dirt from the beans, which are then sacked and stored for
market.

The yield varies greatly and will depend much upon cultural conditions,
the season, the variety grown, and the care exercised in harvesting
and thrashing the seeds. In Oklahoma the average yield of the popping
varieties is said to be 8 to 10 bushels per acre. Yields up to 25
bushels per acre have been reported for favorable conditions.

For some years prior to the war the farm price for castor beans was
about $1 a bushel. Early in the war the increased demand for castor oil
caused a sharp advance in the price of the beans, which has gradually
declined. In June, 1920, the wholesale market quotation was about $3 a
bushel. The normal market requirement in the United States for castor
beans is about 1,000,000 bushels annually, but during the last year of
the war nearly 3,000,000 bushels were imported.

In the United States castor beans are used in quantity only by
manufacturers of castor oil. In general, the equipment and operation
of a castor-oil mill resembles that of a cottonseed-oil mill or
linseed-oil mill, but special and expensive equipment is necessary for
the proper extraction of the oil from castor beans. The best grade of
oil is obtained from the beans by hydraulic pressure. An additional
quantity of oil of lower grade is obtained by treating the press cake
with naphtha or some other volatile solvent. The pomace resulting from
the second extraction is used as a fertilizer for tobacco, corn, and
other crops, but because of a poisonous principle can not be used for
cattle feeding unless specially treated.

Owing to the heavy outlay required for the necessary machinery and
the high cost of manufacture on a small scale, it has not been found
profitable for the growers of castor beans to undertake the extraction
of the oil.

The castor-oil plant is not known to be poisonous, and although the
leaves are not relished by farm animals they are said to be used as
fodder for cattle in India. Castor beans, however, contain a poisonous
principle, and though harmless when handled, may cause serious if not
fatal effects when eaten, especially in the case of small children.
Care should be taken to prevent these beans from being accidentally
mixed with the grain fed to animals, since many cases have been
reported in which the death of horses has been due to eating feed in
which they have become mixed.



CATNIP.


Catnip (_Nepeta cataria_) is a European perennial plant of the mint
family, which frequently occurs in this country as a weed in gardens
and about dwellings. It has long had a popular use as a domestic
remedy. Both leaves and flowering tops find some demand in the
crude-drug trade.

Catnip does well on almost any good soil, but thrives best on a
well-drained and moderately rich garden loam. However, a more fragrant
and attractive herb can be grown in sandy situations than in heavy
soils. The plant may be propagated from seeds or by root division. The
seed may be sown in rows either late in the fall or in early spring
and covered lightly. Fall-sown seed usually gives a more even stand
and a heavier growth of herb. When the plants have reached a height
of 4 to 5 inches they should be thinned to stand from 12 to 16 inches
apart in the rows. In some localities the field sowing of seed does not
give good results, in which case plants may be started in a coldframe
and later transplanted to the field. Shallow cultivation will favor a
vigorous growth of the herb.

The flowering tops are harvested when the plants are in full bloom
and are dried in the shade to preserve their green color. In case the
herb is grown in large quantity, it may be cut with a mowing machine,
the cutter bar of which should be set high. The plants should lie in
the swath until partially dry, and the curing may then be finished
either in small cocks in the field or in the barn, care being taken to
preserve the natural green color as far as possible.

Returns from experimental areas indicate that a yield of about 2,000
pounds of dried flowering tops per acre may be expected under good
conditions. The herb must be carefully sorted and all the large or
coarse stems removed, after which it may be made up for the market in
bales of 100 to 300 pounds each. Prewar prices to collectors ranged
from 2 to 4 cents a pound. The prices in June, 1920, for the herb were
5 cents; for the leaves, 10 cents; and for the leaves and flowers, 14
cents a pound.



CHAMOMILE. (See CAMOMILE.)



CONIUM.


Conium, or poison hemlock (_Conium maculatum_), is a large, poisonous
European biennial plant of the parsley family, naturalized in the
Northeastern States and in California. The full-grown but unripe seeds
(fruits) and the leaves are used medicinally.

Conium is easily grown, and has been found to thrive in both
comparatively moist clay soil and in dry sandy loam. In rich, moist
land it may easily become a troublesome weed. Conium grows readily
from seed, which may be sown either in the fall or early in the spring
in drills 2 or more feet apart. As soon as the seedlings can be
distinguished in the row, cultivation similar to that given ordinary
garden crops is begun. The plants usually blossom in the second year,
and when the oldest seeds are full grown but still green in color the
plants are harvested and the seed at once thrashed out and dried with
the least possible exposure to the light. The small and undeveloped
seed should be screened out and rejected and the good seed stored in
containers that will exclude light and air. The leaves are collected
when the plant is in flower, quickly dried in the sun, and stored in
the same manner as the seed.

Estimated yields at the rate of 600 to 800 pounds of seed per acre have
been obtained, but the yield is very uncertain, since the flowering
plants are especially subject to the attacks of insects which destroy
the crop of seed. The prewar prices as quoted in the wholesale drug
markets ranged from 5 to 10 cents a pound for the seed and 5 to 6 cents
for the leaves. The prices in June, 1920, for the seed were 35 to 36
cents, and for the leaves 25 to 26 cents a pound.



CORIANDER.


Coriander (_Coriandrum sativum_) is an Old World annual of the parsley
family. For years the plant has been cultivated in gardens in the
United States, and it is now reported as growing wild in many places.
The aromatic seeds and the oil distilled from them have long been used
medicinally. Both the seed and the oil are also used for flavoring
confectionery and cordials and as a condiment in bread and cake.

Coriander grows well on almost any good soil, but thrives best on
deep and fertile garden loam. The soil should be well prepared before
planting, which should be done moderately early in the spring. For
field cultivation the seed is sown in rows 3 feet apart, but if the
cultivation is done by hand the distance between the rows may be
reduced to 18 inches. The seed should be sown thickly in order to
insure a good stand. When well up, the plants are thinned to stand 4 or
5 inches apart in the row. Cultivation should continue until the plants
flower, which will be about two months from the time of planting.

When most of the seeds are ripe the plants are cut with a scythe or
mower, preferably early in the morning while moist with dew, in order
to avoid shattering the seed. The plants are partially cured in small
cocks in the field, the drying being finished in a barn loft or under
other suitable shelter, after which the seeds are thrashed out and
cleaned.

The yield of seed is quite variable, but returns from experimental
areas indicate that from 500 to 800 pounds per acre may be expected.
Five hundred pounds of seed will usually yield from 1 to 5 pounds of
oil, according to the localities where grown. The annual importation of
coriander seed is about 1,400,000 pounds. The prewar price of the seed
was about 3 cents a pound; in June, 1920, 3 to 4 cents. The wholesale
price of the oil of coriander, which was $5 to $7 a pound before the
war, in June, 1920, ranged from $42 to $45 a pound.



DANDELION.


Dandelion (_Taraxacum officinale_) is a well-known and troublesome
perennial weed, occurring abundantly almost everywhere in this country
except in the Southern States. It is frequently cultivated in market
gardens for the leaves, which are used for greens or salads, but the
root alone is used in medicine.

This plant will grow well in any good soil and has been successfully
cultivated in the South, but in the colder parts of the country it may
require slight mulching during the winter if the roots tend to heave
out of the soil. The seeds, which are sown in the spring, are drilled
in rows 18 inches apart and covered one-half inch deep. About 3 pounds
of seeds should sow an acre. The seedlings are thinned to stand a foot
apart in the row, and the crop should be well cultivated and kept free
from weeds.

The roots are dug in the fall of the second season after planting the
seed. They should be washed and may be dried whole, or, to facilitate
handling and drying, they may be cut into pierces 3 to 6 inches long
and the larger, portions sliced. Under favorable conditions, yields
at the rate of 1,000 to 1,500 pounds of dry roots per acre have been
obtained from second-year plants. The prices usually offered collectors
for the dry root before the war ranged from 4 to 10 cents a pound. The
price in June, 1920, was about 16 cents. The quantity annually imported
into this country varies from year to year, but averages about 40 tons.

A serious disadvantage attending the cultivation of this crop is the
danger of seeding adjacent land with a very undesirable weed.



DIGITALIS.


Digitalis, or foxglove (_Digitalis purpurea_), is a fairly hardy
European perennial, which has long been grown in flower gardens in this
country as an ornamental plant. The leaves are used in medicine, those
from plants of the second year's growth being required for the official
drug.

Digitalis thrives in ordinary well-drained garden soils of open texture
and reasonable fertility. Sowing the seed directly in the field
occasionally gives good results, but is so often unsuccessful that it
can not be recommended. The seeds are exceedingly small and do not
germinate well except under the most favorable conditions. They should
be mixed with sand, to insure even distribution in seeding, and sown
as early as February in seed pans or flats in the greenhouses or in
well-protected frames. When danger of frost is past the plants should
be hardened off and transplanted to the field, where they may be set
about a foot apart in rows spaced conveniently for cultivation.

The plants do not flower until the second year, and it is necessary to
cultivate them frequently during the growing seasons of both the first
and second year. In localities where the cold weather is severe it may
be desirable to protect the plants during the first winter with a light
mulch of straw or coarse farmyard manure.

The plants usually flower in June of the second year, and the leaves
may then be collected. They are carefully dried in the shade and should
be stored in such a manner that they will not be exposed to light
and moisture. The results of experiments indicate that yields of 450
to 600 pounds of dry leaves per acre may be obtained under favorable
conditions. In considering digitalis culture it should be borne in
mind that the crop occupies the soil for the greater part of two
seasons and demands even closer attention than many truck or garden
crops.

In 1919 small areas of cultivated digitalis, ranging from one-half
to 1 acre in extent, were harvested in Pennsylvania, South Carolina,
Washington, California, and some other States. Several tons of
digitalis leaves were also collected from plants of wild growth in the
general region of the Coast Range of mountains on the Pacific coast.
Digitalis is of great medicinal importance, but on account of its
potency is administered in very small quantities; consequently, a few
thousand pounds is sufficient to meet the annual market requirements.
Before the war the price for digitalis leaves averaged about 15 cents a
pound; in June, 1920, it was about 35 cents a pound.



DILL.


Dill (_Anethum graveolens_) is an Old World annual or biennial herb of
the parsley family. Although it is a native of southern Europe, it is
hardy plant and may be grown in a much cooler climate if given a warm
situation and a well-drained soil. The leaves are used for seasoning,
and the seeds (fruits), which are greatly valued for flavoring pickles,
are used as a condiment and occasionally in medicine. A volatile oil
distilled from the seeds is used chiefly for perfuming soap.

Dill is preferably grown as an annual plant, in which case the seed
should be sown about one-half inch deep very early in the spring in
drills a foot apart. A half ounce of seed is sufficient to sow 150 feet
of drill, and at this rate a pound should sow an acre. When sown in the
field the rows may be 15 to 18 inches apart, and the seedlings should
be thinned to stand about a foot apart in the row. The most favorable
soil is a well-prepared loam, but the plants grow well in any good
garden soil. Frequent cultivation and freedom from weeds are essential
for good results.

Early in the fall, as soon as some of the older seeds are ripe, the
plants are mowed and built up; into small cocks in the field, or, if
sufficiently dry, the seeds may be thrashed out at once. In very dry
weather it is preferable to mow the plants early in the morning while
they are moist with dew, in order to avoid shattering the seed. In case
the seed is very ripe, it is well to cut the plants high and to place
the tops directly on large canvas sheets, in which they may be brought
from the field. After thrashing, the seeds should be spread out in a
thin layer and turned frequently until thoroughly dry, since they tend
to become musty if closely stored before all the moisture has been
removed.

The yield of dill seed is quite variable and is much influenced by
climatic conditions. From 500 to 700 pounds of seed per acre is
considered a good yield. The wholesale price in June, 1920, ranged from
8 to 11 cents a pound.



ECHINACEA.


Echinacea (_Brauneria angustifolia_, fig. 6) is a native perennial
plant of the aster family found on the prairies of the Middle West,
occurring most abundantly in Nebraska and Kansas. The roots of the
plant are used medicinally.

This plant has been found to do well under, cultivation in moderately
rich and well-drained loam. It grows fairly well from seeds, which may
be collected when ripe and kept dry until ready for use. Plants should
be started in a well-prepared seed bed by sowing the seeds thinly in
drills about 8 inches apart. The plants develop slowly and may be left
in the seed bed for two years and then transplanted to the field in
the spring and set about 18 inches apart In rows. Thorough cultivation
is essential for the best results. The roots do not reach a marketable
size under three or four years from the time of sowing the seed. They
are harvested in the fall, freed from any adhering soil, and dried
either in the open air or by means of low artificial heat.

Echinacea has not been cultivated on a scale large enough to give
satisfactory data on the probable yield. The prewar wholesale price
ranged from 22 to 60 cents a pound; in June, 1920, it was 60 to 65
cents a pound.

[Illustration: Fig. 6.--Echinacea (_Brauneria angustifolia_).]



ELECAMPANE.


Elecampane (_Inula helenium_) Is a European perennial plant of the
aster family, now growing wild along roadsides and in fields throughout
the northeastern part of the United States. The root is used in
medicine.

Elecampane will grow in almost any soil, but thrives best in deep
clay loam well supplied with moisture. The ground on which this
plant is to be grown should be deeply plowed and thoroughly prepared
before planting. It is preferable to use divisions of old roots for
propagation, and these should be set in the fall about 18 inches apart
in rows 3 feet apart. Plants may also be grown from seeds, which may be
sown in the spring in seeds beds and the seedlings transplanted later
to the field and set in the same manner as the root divisions. Plants
grown from seed do not flower the first year. Cultivation should be
sufficient to keep the soil in good condition and free from weeds.

The roots are dug in the fall of the second year, thoroughly cleaned,
sliced, and dried in the shade. The available data on yield indicate
that a ton or more of dry root per acre may be expected. The price to
producers usually ranges from 3 to 6 cents a pound. Upward of 50,000
pounds of elecampane root were annually imported into this country
prior to the war.



FENNEL.


Fennel (_Foeniculum vulgare_) is an Old World perennial plant of the
parsley family, occasionally cultivated as a garden herb in the United
States. The aromatic seeds (fruits) are used in medicine and for
flavoring. The oil distilled from the seeds is used in perfumery and
for scenting soaps.

Fennel grows wild in mild climates in almost any good soil and thrives
in rich, well-drained loams containing lime. It is propagated from
seeds, which may be sown in the open as soon as the ground is ready
for planting in the spring. The seed is sown thickly In drills 2 to 3
feet apart and covered lightly. From 4 to 5 pounds of seed should sow
an acre. When well established the plants may be thinned to stand 12 to
15 inches apart in the row. Plants may also be started in a seed bed
from seed sown either in drills 6 inches apart or broadcast. When the
seedlings are three or four inches high they are transplanted to the
field and set 12 to 15 inches apart in rows. The cultivation is the
same as for ordinary garden crops.

Frequently, very little seed is formed the first year, but full crops
may be expected for one or two succeeding years. The seed is gathered
in the fall before it is fully ripe and may be harvested like anise
or coriander. A yield of 600 to 800 pounds of seed, per acre may be
expected. During recent years about 275,000 pounds of seed have been
imported annually. Owing to the war, prices for the seed and oil have
about doubled. The prices in June, 1920, for the seed were 11 to 12
cents a pound; for the oil, $2.75 to $3 a pound.



GENTIAN.


The common or yellow gentian (_Gentiana lutea_) is the only species
recognized in American medicine, although the roots of several other
species are found in the drug trade. The plant grows wild in the
mountains of central and southern Europe, but it has proved very poorly
adapted for cultivation in situations beyond its natural range. For
its best development under cultivation, partial shade, similar to
that required by ginseng and goldenseal, seems necessary. The plants
are said to flower when about 6 years old; hence, several years must
elapse after sowing the seed before the roots reach a marketable
size. Apparently there have been no attempts to cultivate gentian
commercially in this country. The prewar wholesale price of imported
gentian root ranged from 4½ to 8 cents a pound. The price in June.
1920, was 12 to 13 cents a pound.



GINSENG.


Ginseng (_Panax quinquefolium_) is a fleshy-rooted herbaceous plant
native to this country and formerly of frequent occurrence in shady,
well-drained situations in hardwood forests from Maine to Minnesota and
southward to the mountains of Georgia and the Carolinas. It has long
been valued by the Chinese for medicinal use, though rarely credited
with curative properties by natives of other countries. When placed
under cultural conditions, ginseng should be shielded from direct
sunlight by the shade of trees or by lath sheds. The soil should be
fairly light and well fertilized with woods earth, rotted leaves, or
fine raw bone meal, the latter applied at the rate of 1 pound to each
square yard. Seed should be planted in the spring as early as the
soil can be worked to advantage, placed 6 inches apart each way in
the permanent beds or 2 by 6 inches in seed beds, and the seedlings
transplanted to stand 6 to 8 inches apart when 2 years old. Only
cracked or partially germinated seed should be used.

Ginseng needs little cultivation, but the beds should at all times be
kept free from weeds and grass and the surface of the soil slightly
stirred whenever it shows signs of caking. A winter mulch over the
crowns is usually essential, but it should not be applied until
freezing weather is imminent and should be removed in the spring before
the first shoots come through the soil.

The roots do not reach marketable size until about the fifth or sixth
year from seed. When dug they should be carefully washed or shaken free
from all adhering soil, but not scraped. Curing is best; effected in a
well-ventilated room heated to about 90° F. Nearly a month is required
to properly cure the larger roots, and great care must be taken in
order to prevent molding or souring. Overheating must also be avoided.
When well cured the roots should be stored in a dry, airy place until
ready for sale. A market may be found with the wholesale drug dealers,
some of whom make a specialty of buying ginseng root for export.

The price of cultivated ginseng roots, as quoted in wholesale drug
lists, ranges from $1.50 to $8 a pound, according to quality and
freedom from disease.

Further details respecting the culture of ginseng are given in a
Farmers' Bulletin now in press, entitled "Ginseng Culture," and in
Farmers' Bulletin 736, entitled "Ginseng Diseases and Their Control."



GOLDENSEAL.


Goldenseal (_Hydrastis canadensis_) is a native perennial, formerly
quite abundant in open woodlands having ample shade, natural drainage,
and an abundance of leaf mold. Its range is from southern New York and
Ontario west to Minnesota and south to Georgia and Kentucky.

When grown under cultivation the soil should be well fertilized,
preferably by decaying vegetable matter, such as woods soil and rotting
forest leaves, which should be well worked in to a depth of 10 inches
or more. Raw bone meal and cottonseed meal are also favorable in their
action. Seed may be sown in October in a well-prepared seed bed. It may
be scattered broadcast or dropped one-half inch apart and covered with
fine leaf mold to the depth of 1 inch. During the winter the seed bed
should be protected with burlap or fertilizer sacks, and should also be
guarded against encroachment of moles or mice. Plants may be set 6 to 8
inches apart each way and the rootstocks covered to a depth of about 2
inches. For satisfactory growth goldenseal requires about 75 per cent
of shade during the summer, which should be provided by a lath shade or
by cloth, brush, or vines. The soil should be kept free from weeds and
the plants liberally watered throughout the growing season, but good
drainage is necessary, since goldenseal does not thrive in boggy ground.

Under favorable conditions goldenseal reaches its best development
in about, five years from seed, or, in a year or two less when grown
from root buds or by divisions of the rootstocks. The root is dug in
the autumn after the tops have withered. They are washed clean of all
soil, sticks, etc., and dried on lath screens in an airy place in mild
sunlight or partial shade, or indoors on a clean, dry floor. When dried
in the open they should be protected from rain and dew. The cured root
is kept in loose masses until marketed, since close packing may cause
attacks of mold. The dried leaves and stems of goldenseal, commonly
known as "seal herb," are also a marketable product.

The prices in June, 1920, ranged from $5 to $6 a pound for the roots
and from 40 to 70 cents a pound for the herb.



HENBANE.


Henbane (_Hyoscyamus niger_) is a poisonous annual or biennial herb of
the nightshade family, introduced into this country from Europe and
occasionally found as a weed in a number of the Northern States. The
leaves, flowering tops, and sometimes the seeds are used medicinally.

Henbane is propagated from seeds, but when these are sown in the open
field germination is uncertain, and a very poor stand or total failure
is a frequent result. Germination is usually much more certain when
the seeds are sown under glass, but the plants do not readily stand
transplanting and often die after they are set in the open. Very good
results have been secured by sowing the seed in small pots under glass
in January, transferring the seedlings to 3-inch pots in March, and
transplanting in May to the field, where the plants may be set at least
15 inches apart in rows. In handling the plants care should be taken
to disturb the soil about the roots as little as possible. The soil
requirements and method of cultivation are practically the same as for
belladonna.

The leaves of henbane usually suffer severely from attacks of the
potato beetle, especially during the first year, and the crop is very
likely to be destroyed if grown within the range of this insect.

Ordinarily the plants blossom about August of the second year and
die after ripening their seed, but individual plants started early
frequently bloom and set seed the first year. The leaves and flowing
tops are collected when the plants are in full bloom and are carefully
dried in the shade.

The American crop of henbane has never much exceeded 10 acres. The
yield under favorable conditions is estimated at about 6,000 pounds per
acre. The wholesale price in June, 1920, was 35 to 38 cents a pound.



HOREHOUND.


Horehound (_Marrubium vulgare_) is a hardy perennial herb of the mint
family, which occurs as a common weed in many places in the United
States, especially on the Pacific coast, where it threatens to become a
pest. The leaves and flowering tops find some demand as a crude drug.
Their greatest use, however, is in the manufacture of candy, although
they are sometimes employed for seasoning.

Horehound grows well in almost any soil and thrives in light, dry soils
lacking in fertility. It grows readily from seeds, which are usually
sown in drills early in the spring and covered with about an inch of
soil. Plants may also be started in coldframes, either from seed or
cuttings, and later transplanted to the field. Propagation may also
be effected by division of old plants. Plants may stand 6, 12, or 18
inches apart in the row; those which stand close together will have
small stems, and hence will yield a crop of finer quality.

The plants are harvested just before flowering and should be cured in
the shade in order to preserve the green color. If the stems are small,
the plants may be cut close to the ground with a scythe, or with a
mower if the area is large. In case the plants are tall and large they
must be cut some distance above the ground and all coarse stems removed
to make the herb suitable for marketing.

Yields at the rate of 2,000 pounds of dry herb per acre have been
obtained. The prewar wholesale prices for the herb ranged from 5 to 8
cents a pound. The price in June, 1920, was 15 to 16 cents. The annual
importation of horehound varies from year to year, sometimes reaching
60 to 70 tons.



INSECT-POWDER FLOWERS.


Insect flowers, from which pyrethrum or insect powder is prepared,
are produced by several species of plants of the aster family which
occur wild in the eastern Mediterranean region, where they are also
cultivated.

The species here considered (_Chrysanthemum_ [_Pyrethrum_]
_cinerariaefolium_) has been cultivated commercially in California
for the production of insect powder. This species seems to thrive
best in warm situations and should grow well in any good soil which
is well drained and not too heavy. The seeds may be sown directly
in the field, either early in the spring or in the fall, but it is
preferable to start the plants in coldframes or well-prepared seed
beds and transplant them to the field. The seed is mixed with sand and
sown broadcast on the surface of the bed and lightly covered with a
rake. Water should be used sparingly on the seed bed, since the young
seedlings and even mature plants are easily killed by a wet soil.
When the seedlings are about a month old they are transplanted, during
damp weather if possible, and set 8 to 12 inches apart in rows 3 to 4
feet apart. Old plants may also be divided and used for propagation.
The plants should be well cultivated during the growing season and
will yield flowers for several years if they are well cared for. The
fertility of the soil is maintained by the application of fertilizers.

The time of harvesting varies from June to September, according to
locality. The flower heads are gathered just as they open and may be
collected by hand or by means of a flower picker. They are dried,
preferably in the shade, on canvas sheets about 15 feet square, on
which they are spread in a thin layer and turned two or three times a
day until dry.

The average yield of dried flowers appears to be about 450 pounds per
acre. The wholesale price for these flowers in June, 1920, was 85 to 90
cents a pound, which is from three to four times the prewar price.



LARKSPUR.


The larkspur of the crude-drug trade is an annual plant (_Delphinium
consolida_), native of southern Europe, which has long been cultivated
in this country as an ornamental and is now occasionally found growing
wild. Another species of larkspur (_Delphinium urceolatum_) is native
to this country and is said to have properties very similar to those of
the European species. Larkspur seed is now used chiefly in remedies for
external parasites.

These larkspurs thrive best in a rich sandy or gravelly soil. In
heavy soils they are likely to suffer from root-rot, which materially
reduces the yield. A rather dry climate is suitable for plants of this
character. They do not bear transplanting well and seeds should be sown
in the fall or very early in the spring where the plants are to stand.
The soil should be well fined and the seed thinly sown in drills spaced
according to the method of cultivation to be used. When up, the plants
should be thinned to stand 8 inches or more apart in the rows. The
necessary cultivation consists in keeping the soil between the rows and
about the plants mellow and free from weeds during the growing season.

When the seed capsules are fairly ripe, the seed is harvested by
collecting the tops, which should be cut before the seed capsules have
become so brittle as to risk the loss of seed by shattering and which
can be handled best in the early morning while damp and pliable. They
should be cured in a well-ventilated place, sheltered from rain, and
when thoroughly dry may be thrashed out and cleaned.

The wholesale price now quoted for larkspur seed is between 32 and 35
cents a pound.

The seed of a European species of larkspur (_Delphinium staphisagria_),
commonly-called stavesacre, possesses medicinal properties and is
recognized as an official drug. The wholesale price for stavesacre seed
in June, 1920, was about 30 cents a pound.



LAVENDER.


The true lavender (_Lavandula vera_) is a small shrubby plant of the
mint family, native to southern Europe, and widely cultivated for its
fragrant flowers and for the oil distilled from the fresh flowering
tops.

Lavender thrives best in light and rather dry soils well supplied with
lime, but may be grown in almost any well-drained loam. On low or wet
land it is almost certain to winterkill. The plant is not easily grown
from seed, but may be readily propagated from cuttings or by division.
In cold climates the plants must be well protected during the winter,
or they may be carried over in a greenhouse or coldframe. Early in the
spring the plants or rooted cuttings are set in well-prepared soil, 12
to 15 inches apart in rows spaced to suit the cultivation intended.
Frequent and thorough cultivation is desirable.

Not many blooms can be cut the first year, but full crops may be
expected for each of the three following years, after which it will be
best to start new plantings. The flowering tops are harvested when they
are in full bloom, and if used for the production of oil are distilled
at once without drying. If the dry flowers are wanted, the tops are
carefully dried in the shade and the flowers later stripped from the
stems by hand.

On ordinary soil, yields of 600 to 1,200 pounds per acre of fresh
flowering tops have been obtained. The dry weight is about four-fifths
of the green weight. The yield of oil varies widely, but from 12 to 15
pounds per acre may be expected under good conditions. The wholesale
prices in June, 1920, were about as follows: For "ordinary" flowers,
from 18 to 24 cents a pound; for "select" flowers, from 30 to 35 cents
a pound; for oil of lavender flowers, $11 to $12 a pound.



LICORICE.


Licorice (_Glycyrrhiza glabra_) is an Old World plant, the culture of
which has not succeeded commercially in this country, although the
plant grows well in the arid Southwest and in California, where in some
localities it threatens to become a weed. Licorice is used to some
extent in medicine, and is said to be much in demand by manufacturers
of tobacco.

Licorice is a fairly hardy plant, but it thrives best in warm regions,
where the season is sufficiently long to promote strong growth. Plants
may be grown from seed, but propagation by means of cuttings made from
the younger parts of the Rhizome, or so-called root, usually gives best
results. The cuttings are set perpendicularly in deep, moist, sandy, or
loamy soil, and should stand about 18 inches apart in rows so spaced as
to allow for the cultivation necessary to keep the soil mellow and free
from weeds.

The yield under good culture is said to average about 5,000 pounds
of dry root per acre at the end of every third year. The relatively
low price at which, the imported root can usually be obtained has so
far prevented the development of commercial licorice growing in this
country. Nearly 100,000,000 pounds of licorice root and an average of
about 600,000 pounds of licorice paste are annually imported into the
United States when trade conditions are normal.

Prewar prices for the imported root usually ranged from 4 to 5½ cents a
pound in bales. The price in June, 1920, was 13 to 14 cents.



LOBELIA.


Lobelia (_Lobelia inflata_) is a native poisonous annual plant,
occurring generally in open woods and pastures, but is most abundant in
the States east of the Mississippi River. The leaves, tops, and seeds
are used medicinally.

This plant thrives under cultivation in a rather rich, moist loam, and
grows well either in the open or in partial shade. It grows readily
from seeds, which are very small and must be sown on soil which has
been well fined and exceptionally well prepared. The seeds are sown
either in the fall or spring in rows 2 feet apart. It is best not to
cover the seeds but to sow them on the surface of the soil, which is
then firmed with a float or by resting a board over the row and walking
upon it. Fall planting usually gives a better stand and a heavier crop.
Shallow cultivation should be given until the plants begin to flower.

Lobelia is harvested when in full flower or as soon as some of the
older seed pods are full grown. The plants may be cut with a mower if
the cutter bar is set high enough to avoid including the large stems.
The herb should be dried in the shade, in order to preserve the green
color.

Small areas have given yields at the rate of 1,000 pounds of dry herb
per acre. The prewar price paid to collectors for the dried herb was
about 3 cents a pound. The prices in June, 1920, were, for the herb, 20
cents; for the seed, 75 cents a pound.



LOVAGE.


Lovage (_Levisticum officinale_) is a perennial plant of the parsley
family, introduced into this country from Europe as a garden plant and
now grown as a crop in certain localities in New England and the West.
The root has long been supposed to have medicinal properties and is
in some demand in the drug trade. The flowering tops yield a volatile
oil, for which, however, there is little demand. The seeds are used for
flavoring confectionery and the leaf stems are sometimes blanched, like
celery, and eaten as a salad.

Lovage is propagated by division or from seeds. The seeds may be
planted in the fall in drills 18 inches apart or sown in early spring
in a hotbed, greenhouse, or well-prepared seed bed in a sheltered
portion of the garden. They should be covered very lightly with sand
or fine sifted soil, and in order to prevent the soil from drying out
before the seeds germinate it is advisable to spread old burlap or
sacking over the bed. The sacking may be sprinkled occasionally if the
weather is dry and should be removed when the first seedlings break
the soil. The plants should reach a size suitable for transplanting
by the end of May, when they may be set at intervals of 8 inches in
rows far enough apart for convenient cultivation. Lovage grows well in
almost any deep, well-drained soil, such as will produce a fair crop of
corn or potatoes, and is benefited by the liberal use of fertilizer,
although heavy applications of manure tend to produce excessive top
growth.

The roots may be dug in October of the second or third year after
setting the plants. Numerous offsets will generally be found, and if
these have good roots they may be used to renew the plantation without
recourse to seed. Such shoots should at once be reset at the usual
distances apart. The freshly dug roots should be well washed, cut into
slices about one-half inch thick, and carefully dried. If necessary,
artificial heat, not to exceed 125° F., may be used to hasten drying.

Returns from experimental areas indicate that a yield of about 1,000
pounds of dried root to the acre may be expected under good conditions
every third year. The prices quoted for American lovage root in the
wholesale drug markets range from 45 cents to $1 a pound, according to
demand and quality. Producers, however, usually receive much less than
the wholesale price.



MELISSA.


Melissa, balm, or lemon balm (_Melissa officinalis_), is a perennial
herb of the mint family, native to southern Europe. In this country
it has long been cultivated in gardens, from which it has escaped and
now grows wild in many places in the eastern United States. The leaves
of balm are widely used for culinary flavoring, and the leaves and
flowering tops are used in medicine. The volatile oil distilled from
the plant is said to be used in perfumery and also for flavoring.

Balm grows readily on any good garden soil and is easily propagated
from seeds, cuttings, or by division. The seeds may be sown in the open
early in the spring, but owing to their small size it is best to sow
them in shallow flats in a greenhouse or in a hotbed. The soil should
be well fined and the seeds sown thinly on the surface of the soil,
which is then firmed with a float or a small board. When well up, the
seedlings should be transferred to deeper flats, and when 4 or 5 inches
high they may be transplanted to the open and set about a foot apart in
rows spaced to suit the cultivation to be given. Cultivation should be
frequent and sufficient to keep the soil about the plants mellow and
free from weeds.

When the plants are in full flower the crop can be cut with a scythe,
or with a mower if the herb is to be used for distillation. For
preparing the crude drug only the flowering tops are collected, the
coarse, stemmy portions of the herb being rejected. The leaves and tops
are dried in the shade in order to preserve the green color.

Yields at the rate of about 1,800 pounds of dry herb per acre have been
obtained, but if only the flowering tops are collected the yield will
be very materially less. The prewar price paid to collectors for the
leaves and tops ranged from 3 to 4 cents a pound. In June, 1920, the
price for the leaves was 15 cents a pound.



ORRIS.


Orris (_Iris florentina_) is a perennial, native to southern Europe,
and is cultivated chiefly in Italy for its fragrant rootstocks, which
yield the orris of commerce. The plant grows well in a variety of
soils and flourishes in a rich, moist loam, but roots which are grown
in rather dry, gravelly soil appear to be the most fragrant. Orris
is readily propagated by division of the old plants, which may be
set either in the spring or fall about a foot apart in rows spaced
conveniently for cultivation.

Since harvesting usually takes place only once in three years, the use
of the land is required for that length of time in order to obtain one
crop. After the roots are dug they are peeled and dried in the open
air. The desired fragrance does not develop until after the dry roots
have been stored for a number of months, during which time they are
especially liable to the attacks of insects.

The yield is from 5 to 6 tons of dry root per acre. The average annual
importation of orris is normally about 500,000 pounds. The wholesale
prices, which before the war ranged from 6 to 10 cents, in June,
1920, were 14 to 15 cents a pound. The outlook for a profitable orris
industry in this country does not appear promising, and it does not
seem advisable for any considerable number of persons to undertake the
growing of this crop.



PARSLEY.


Parsley (_Petroselinum sativum_) is a biennial herb grown everywhere
in gardens for use in garnishing and seasoning. All parts of the plant
contain a volatile oil, that from the seed being especially rich in a
constituent known as apiol, or "parsley camphor," which is still used
to some extent in medicine. In the crude-drug trade there is a small
demand for the root, leaves, and seed.

A rich and rather moist soil is desirable for the growing of parsley.
The seeds germinate slowly and are frequently sown early in the spring
in cold frames or seed beds, from which the young plants may be removed
later and set in the open in rows 12 or more inches apart and about
6 inches apart in the row. When the leaves are fully grown they may
be collected and dried in the usual manner. The plants flower in
the second year, and as soon as the seed is ripe it is harvested and
carefully dried. At the end of the second growing season, late in
October, the root may be dug and should be well washed and carefully
dried. Artificial heat may be used in drying if necessary.

On small areas yields of seed at the rate of about 185 pounds per acre
have been obtained. During the past few years the wholesale price of
the seed has varied from 10 to 70 cents a pound, according to demand
and season. From 15 to 50 pounds of seed are required to yield 1 pound
of the oil, which in June, 1920, was quoted at $6.50 to $7 a pound.



PENNYROYAL.


Pennyroyal (_Hedeoma pulegioides_) is an annual plant, flowering
from June to October, and is found in dry soils from Nova Scotia and
Quebec to Dakota and southward. Both the dry herb and the oil obtained
therefrom by steam distillation form marketable products.

Pennyroyal grows well on average upland soils and is frequently
abundant on sandy or gravelly slopes. In field planting the seeds
should be sown in rows in the fall and covered not to exceed
one-quarter of an inch, since they rarely germinate if planted at
a greater depth. The plants come up early in the spring, and to
secure the best results clean cultivation and freedom from weeds are
essential, as with all cultivated crops.

Early in the summer, when the plants are in full flower, they may be
mowed. To prepare the herb for market the plants are dried, preferably
in the shade, and carefully packed immediately after drying. All the
large stems should be removed in order to improve the quality of the
product. The herb should be marketed promptly, since it deteriorates
with age. For the production of the volatile oil, the plants should be
harvested when in full flower and distilled without drying.

Returns from experimental areas indicate that a yield of about 1,200
pounds of dry herb per acre may be expected. The yield of oil varies
from 15 to 30 pounds per acre. The price paid for the dry herb usually
ranges from 1 to 2 cents a pound. The wholesale price of the oil ranges
from about $1 to $2 a pound.



PEPPERMINT.


Peppermint (_Mentha piperita_) is a perennial of the mint family,
frequently found growing wild in moist situations throughout the
eastern half of the United States. It is cultivated on a commercial
scale, chiefly on the muck lands of southern Michigan and northern
Indiana. The volatile oil forms the principal marketable product, but
there is some demand in the crude-drug trade for the dried leaves and
flowering tops.

Peppermint is propagated from "roots," or runners, which should be set
in an almost continuous row in furrows about 3 feet apart and covered
to a depth of about 3 inches. It can be grown on any land that will
produce good crops of corn, but is most successful on the muck lands of
reclaimed swamps. On uplands it soon exhausts the soil and will not do
well for more than two or three seasons without the rotation of crops.
On rich muck lands it will grow for a number of years, the soil being
plowed after the crop is harvested and the runners turned in to form
a new growth the succeeding year. It is essential that the ground be
kept free from weeds, since their presence in the crop at harvest would
seriously injure the quality of the oil.

When peppermint is grown on reclaimed swamps or muck lands fertilizers
are rarely needed, but on uplands it is well to plow in 12 or more
tons per acre of rotted stable manure before planting. Similar
applications may be made between the rows in early spring and plowed
in as the land shows signs of exhaustion. Commercial truck or potato
fertilizers cultivated in between the rows at the rate of 600 pounds
to the acre have proved useful in keeping up fertility, but manure is
to be preferred, as it provides humus or vegetable matter as well as
increases the fertility.

Harvesting is begun in July or August, when the plants are in full
bloom. The herb is cut and cured like hay, and when fairly well dried
is placed in large vats or stills having a capacity of from 1 to 3 tons
of dry herb and distilled with steam to obtain the volatile oil. The
yield of oil is exceedingly variable, but on lands well suited for the
production of peppermint the average yield is not far from 30 pounds
per acre. The annual production of peppermint oil in the United States
is about 300,000 pounds. For many years before the war the price of the
oil varied from year to year, but averaged about $2.50 a pound. There
is some demand for the dried leaves and tops, for which 6 to 15 cents a
pound was paid to collectors in June, 1920.

For further information on the growing of peppermint, see Farmers'
Bulletin 694, entitled "The Cultivation of Peppermint and Spearmint."



PINKROOT.


[Illustration: Fig. 7.--Pinkroot (_Spigelia marilandica_).]

Pinkroot (_Spigelia marilandica_, fig. 7) is a native perennial herb
occurring in rich open woods from New Jersey to Wisconsin and south
to Florida and Texas. The root is an official drug, the use of which
has declined in recent years, apparently on account of the extent to
which pinkroot has been adulterated with the worthless roots of another
plant known as East Tennessee pinkroot. Prospective growers of pinkroot
should obtain seeds or roots for planting from thoroughly reliable
sources only.

Pinkroot makes a vigorous growth under conditions suitable for growing
ginseng or goldenseal, and partial shade is usually necessary, although
if given a rich, moist, loamy soil it may be grown without shade in
situations not too hot and dry. It is propagated either from seeds or
from divisions of old roots. It is best to sow the seeds as soon as
they are ripe, but if mixed with moist sand and kept in a cool place
sowing may be deferred until fall or the following spring. The seeds
are sown in drills 6 inches apart in well-prepared seed beds, and in
the spring, when the young plants are a few inches high, they are set
about a foot apart each way in the permanent beds. The old roots are
divided when dormant, and each division should consist of a portion of
the root with one or more buds and a number of the small rootlets. They
are set in the same manner as the seedlings. Thorough cultivation and
freedom from weeds are essential for good results.

The roots usually attain a marketable size in three years, but will
give a heavier yield at the end of the fourth or fifth year. They are
harvested in the fall, and after the tops are cut off the roots are
well washed and thoroughly dried. Little can be said regarding yield,
but returns from small areas indicate that a bed 4 by 30 feet will
yield from 10 to 12 pounds of dry root in four years. The prices paid
to collectors of pinkroot before the war ranged from 15 to 30 cents a
pound. The price in June, 1920, was about 60 cents a pound.



POKEWEED.


Pokeweed (_Phytolacca americana_) is a native plant of frequent
occurrence in moist, rich soil along fences and in uncultivated land
throughout the eastern half of the United States. The root, which is
perennial, sends up large annual stems, sometimes attaining a height of
8 or 9 feet. This plant bears numerous long clusters of smooth, shining
purple berries, very attractive in appearance, but the seeds are said
to be poisonous. Both the root and the berries are used in medicine.

Pokeweed thrives in deep, rich soils well supplied with moisture and
may be readily grown from seed sown early in the spring in rows 4 feet
apart and barely covered. The seedlings may be thinned to stand about 3
feet apart in the rows. Cultivation should be shallow, though frequent.
The plant develops a long, thick, and fleshy root, which when old is
not easily harvested and may have to be dug by hand. If the roots of
plants grown from seed are harvested at the end of the first year,
they may be turned out by means of a deep-running plow without great
difficulty. As soon as they are dug the roots are cleaned by washing
and are usually cut into lengthwise or transverse slices for drying.
They should be thoroughly dried, and if a large quantity is to be
handled the use of artificial heat will be found desirable.

A yield of about 600 pounds of dry root per acre may be expected at the
end of the first year, or three or four times as much from plants of
the second year's growth. In the second year several hundred pounds of
berries may also be obtained from 1 acre.

Before the war, collectors received from 2 to 3 cents a pound for the
roots and berries. The price in June, 1920, for the dry, cut root was
about 6 cents and for the dry berries 15 cents a pound. Apparently
there is but a small demand for either of these products.



SAFFLOWER.


Safflower, American saffron, or false saffron (_Carthamus tinctorius_)
is a hardy Old World annual of the aster family, cultivated in gardens
in this country for its flowers, which are used in coloring or for
flavoring, and sometimes as a substitute for the true saffron.

Safflower grows well on moist soils and may be readily propagated from
seeds sown in the open early in the spring. The soil should be fine
and mellow, and the seeds sown an inch or more apart in drills and
well covered. About three weeks from the time of sowing the seed the
plants will be well started, and cultivation should begin at once and
be continued until the flower buds form. The plants bloom in July or
August, when harvesting may begin. Only the florets are collected, and,
since these must be removed by hand, harvesting is slow and expensive.
The plants continue to blossom for several weeks, and the florets must
be harvested almost daily. It is best to collect them early in the
morning and to dry them in the shade on trays having muslin bottoms.
The florets should be turned daily until thoroughly dry and then stored
in tin containers.

The yield is estimated at 125 to 150 pounds of dry florets per acre.
The price for safflower is variable and ranges from 19 to 60 cents a
pound.



SAFFRON.


The true saffron (_Crocus sativus_) is a low-growing, fall-blooming,
bulbous plant of the iris family, native to southern Europe, where it
is cultivated commercially. It was formerly grown as a small garden
crop in some localities in this country, chiefly in Lancaster and
Lebanon Counties, Pa. The stigmas of the flowers form the saffron of
commerce. Saffron is used in cookery and for coloring confectionery,
and was formerly widely used in medicine.

A rich, well-drained garden soil favors a vigorous growth of the plant,
but a better quality of saffron is secured on land of medium fertility.
It is propagated from bulbs (corms), which may be planted in August
about 6 inches apart each way and 6 inches deep in well-prepared soil.
When grown on a large scale the bulbs are often set late in the spring.
The ground is laid off in rows about 20 inches apart, and a furrow 6
to 8 inches deep is opened for each row. In this furrow the bulbs are
set in two parallel rows about 4 inches apart and about 2 inches apart
in the row. The furrows are then filled and the surface of the soil
brought to a uniform level. Thorough cultivation and freedom from weeds
are essential for good results.

The purplish blossoms usually appear about October, but the main leaf
growth of the plant is made in the following spring. The bulbs may
remain undisturbed for three or four years, or they may be taken up
yearly and the clusters divided. All unsound bulbs should be rejected,
as they are often attacked by a fungus which readily spreads to the
sound bulbs, causing them to rot. During the blossoming period, which
frequently lasts from two to three weeks, the flowers are collected
daily just as they open. The orange-colored stigmas are then removed
from the flowers, either by pulling them out or by cutting them off
with the finger nail, after which the flowers are thrown away. The
stigmas are dried immediately, a common method being to spread them in
a thin layer on a sieve which is suspended over a low fire. When fully
dry they are placed in linen bags and stored in a dry place.

The yield of saffron is variously estimated at from 10 to 30 pounds
per acre, according to the situation where it Is grown. About 50,000
flowers are required to produce a pound of dry saffron; consequently,
the amount of hand labor involved in removing the stigmas is quite
large. The price usually received for saffron in normal times is not
far from $8 a pound, but the prices in June, 1920, ranged from $14 to
$15 a pound. Owing to the high cost of production, it is not thought
probable that saffron culture would prove profitable in the United
States.



SAGE.


The common sage plant (_Salvia officinalis_) is a hardy perennial
of the mint family, widely cultivated in gardens, and when once
established it persists for several years. The leaves are used
extensively for seasoning meats and soups, and a tea made from them is
an old household remedy.

Sage is easily cultivated and will grow in any well-drained fertile
soil, but seems to thrive best in a rich clayey loam. For cultivation
on a large scale the seeds are sown in early spring in rows from 2 to 3
feet apart, and when the plants are well up they are thinned to stand
about 12 inches apart in the row. Seedling plants have a tendency to
produce narrow leaves; hence, the broad-leaved varieties which do not
flower readily are the most desirable, since they give a larger yield
of leaves. As the plants rarely set seed, they are usually grown from
cuttings, which may be obtained from seed houses having their own
propagating gardens. Cuttings set as early in the spring as weather
conditions will permit usually give a large crop. In the North the
plants should be protected In winter by a mulch of manure. Sage may
also be grown as a second crop after early vegetables.

A fair crop of leaves may be harvested the first season and a much
larger one for five or six years following. Only one picking should be
made the first year, after which two or three pickings may be made in a
season. If a product of fine quality is desired, the leaves are picked
by hand and dried in the shade. Sage leaves are apt to turn black while
drying unless the removal of moisture proceeds continually until they
are fully dry. A cheap grade may be obtained at a smaller harvest cost
by cutting the plants with a mower, the cutter bar of which is set at
such a height as not to include the woody stems. The dry herb should be
marketed promptly, since it loses its strength rapidly with age.

Returns from experimental areas indicate that on good soil a yield of
2,000 pounds or more of dried tops per acre may be expected. In case
the leaves only are harvested, the yield will be proportionately less.
American leaf sage usually brings a considerably higher price than that
imported from Europe. During the last three years the price has ranged
from 20 to 70 cents a pound, according to supply and demand.

[Illustration: Fig. 8.--Seneca snakeroot (_Polygala senega_).]



SENECA SNAKEROOT.

Seneca snakeroot, known also as senega or seneca root (_Polygala
senega_, fig. 8), is a small native perennial, occurring in rocky woods
in the eastern United States and Canada. Seneca is not yet grown on a
commercial scale, although cultivated experimentally in a number of
places. The root is used in medicine.

Seneca can be grown in good garden soil or in rather firm, stony soil,
provided it contains a fair proportion of leaf mold or very well rotted
manure. Shade is not essential, although the plant thrives in partial
shade or under modified forest conditions. Roots for propagation may be
obtained from dealers or may be collected from the wild in autumn or
early spring. If set 15 inches apart in rows, the plants may be readily
cultivated until they reach a marketable size. The seeds ripen in June
and may then be planted, or they may be stratified by mixing with sand
and buried in boxes or flower pots in moist soil until the following
spring, when they may be sown in seed beds or shallow boxes of loam
and leaf mold. The seedlings when old enough to be handled safely may
be transplanted to the permanent beds and set in rows to facilitate
cultivation. In cold situations they will probably need to be protected
during the first winter after transplanting. A light covering of straw
or pine needles will be sufficient to protect them from severe frost.

The plant is slow in growth, but experiments thus far indicate that
about four years are required to obtain marketable roots. The roots
should be dug in the fall, thoroughly cleaned, and dried. There are no
reliable data on the probable yield. Seneca root is in constant demand,
and collectors formerly received from 35 to 50 cents a pound. The price
to collectors in June, 1920, was 90 cents a pound.



SERPENTARIA.


Serpentaria, or Virginia snakeroot (_Aristolochia serpentaria_), is a
native perennial plant occurring in rich woods in the eastern part of
the United States, and most abundantly along the Allegheny Mountains.
The roots of this plant are used in medicine.

Like many other woodland plants, serpentaria requires a rich, moist
loam and partial shade for its best development. It may be readily
propagated from seeds, which, however, require several months for
germination. The seeds are best sown in a well-prepared seed bed as
soon as they are ripe. They may also be sown broadcast or in drills 6
inches apart and lightly covered with leaf mold. A thin mulch of straw
or leaves will afford the necessary winter protection. In the spring
the plants may be set 6 inches apart each way in the permanent beds.
Plantings have been made in the open, in which case the plants were set
4 inches apart in rows 16 inches apart, but the results have been less
satisfactory than with plantings made under shade.

The roots are collected in the fall, thoroughly cleaned, and carefully
dried. Satisfactory data on probable yields under cultivation are not
available. The price usually ranges from 30 to 45 cents a pound.



SPEARMINT.


Spearmint (_Mentha spicata_) is a well-known perennial of the mint
family which is very frequently found growing wild in moist situations
throughout the eastern half of the United States. It is widely used
for seasoning meats, and the leaves and flowering tops, as well as
the volatile oil distilled from the whole herb, form marketable drug
products.

Spearmint is easily grown in any fertile soil which is fairly moist.
Its culture and the method of distilling the volatile oil are the same
as for peppermint. To prepare the dry herb for market the leaves and
flowering tops are collected when the first flowers appear and before
the leaves begin to fall and are carefully dried in the shade. The
demand for the dry herb is small, but the annual market requirement for
the oil is about 50,000 pounds.

On ordinary soils the yield of oil varies from 10 to 20 pounds per
acre, according to stand and season, but on muck lands the yield is
usually only a little less than that of peppermint. Before the war the
wholesale prices for the oil ranged from $1.50 to $5, averaging about
$3.30 a pound. The price in June, 1920, was $12 a pound. The dry herb,
which formerly brought from 3 to 4 cents, is now quoted at 6 to 12
cents a pound.

For further information on the growing of spearmint, see Farmers'
Bulletin 694, entitled "The Cultivation of Peppermint and Spearmint."



STRAMONIUM.


Stramonium, Jamestown weed, or jimson weed (_Datura stramonium_), is
a poisonous annual of the nightshade family, which occurs as a common
weed in almost all parts of this country except the West and North. The
leaves and seeds are used medicinally.

Although stramonium grows wild on a variety of soils, it thrives best
under cultivation in rich and rather heavy soils which are fairly well
supplied with lime. It grows readily from seed, which may be sown in
the open early in the spring in drills 3 feet apart and barely covered.
When the plants are well established they are thinned to stand 12 to 15
inches apart in the row. The plants can be readily transplanted, and
gaps occurring in the rows may be filled in with the plants removed in
thinning. Cultivation sufficient to keep the soil free from weeds is
necessary for good growth.

Cultivated plants are frequently attacked by leaf-eating insects,
especially in the early stages of growth, and it is often necessary to
use lime or other insect repellents to prevent the destruction of the
crop.

The leaves, which are collected when the plant is in full bloom, may
be picked in the field, but time will be saved if the entire plant is
cut and dried in an artificially heated curing room at a temperature of
100° to 110° F. When the leaves are dry they can be readily stripped
from the stems, and should be baled for shipment. Such seed as is ripe
may be easily thrashed out of the capsules after the leaves have been
removed from the stems.

Yields of dry leaf at the rate of 1,000 to 1,500 pounds per acre
have been obtained. The yield of seed is much more variable, and is
estimated to range from 500 to 2,000 pounds per acre. The prewar price
for the leaves varied from 2 to 10 cents and for the seed from 3 to 7
cents a pound. The price in June, 1920, for the leaves was 22 cents and
for the seed 12 cents a pound.



TANSY.


Tansy (_Tanacetum vulgare_) is a European perennial plant, long
cultivated in this country in gardens, from which it has escaped, and
it now occurs as a weed along fence rows and roadsides. The leaves and
flowering tops are in some demand for medicinal purposes. The herb also
yields a volatile oil, for which there is a small market.

Tansy grows well on almost any good soil, but rich and rather heavy
soils well supplied with moisture favor a heavy growth of herb. It may
be propagated from seed, but is more readily propagated by division
of the roots early in spring. The divisions are set 18 inches apart
in rows 3 feet apart. Seed may be sown very early in the spring in
the open or in seed beds, and the seedlings later transplanted to the
field. Such cultivation as is usually given to garden crops will be
sufficient.

The plants are cut late in the summer when in full flower, the leaves
and tops being separated from the stems and dried without exposure to
the sun, as the trade desires a bright-green color. For the volatile
oil the plants are allowed to lie in the field after cutting until
they have lost a considerable portion of their moisture. They are then
brought to the still and the oil removed by the usual method of steam
distillation.

A yield of about 2,000 pounds of dry leaves and flowering tops per acre
may be obtained under good conditions. The yield of oil varies, but
about 20 pounds per acre is a fair average. In the United States the
center of production of oil of tansy is Michigan, where about 2,500
pounds are distilled annually. The price of the oil in June, 1920, was
about $8 a pound. The price of the leaves and tops usually ranges from
3 to 5 cents a pound.



THYME.


Thyme (_Thymus vulgaris_) is a shrublike perennial plant of the mint
family, native to southwestern Europe. It is a common garden plant,
which lives for many years under good culture. The herb, often used
for seasoning and flavoring, yields the oil of thyme, which has
well-recognized medicinal properties.

Thyme grows well from seed, which may be sown early in the spring in
drills 3 feet apart, or the plants may be started in a greenhouse or in
seed beds outside and later set at intervals of about 18 inches in rows
2 to 3 feet apart. Thyme may also be propagated, like geraniums, from
cuttings rooted in sand under glass. The plants grow well in mellow
upland soil of good quality, and should be well cultivated and kept
free from weeds throughout the growing season.

For preparing the dry herb only the flowering tops are used, and these
are cut when the plant is in full bloom and carefully dried in the
shade in order to preserve the natural color. The volatile oil is
obtained from the entire herb, which is preferably cut when in full
flower and subjected to steam distillation without previous drying.

Returns from experimental areas have shown great variations in the
yield, which has averaged about a ton of green herb per acre. Normally
the yield from a planting increases for several years, as the plants
become better established, and yields at the rate of about a ton of dry
herb per acre have been reported. The wholesale price in June, 1920,
for the dry herb ranged from 11 to 15 cents a pound; for the imported
oil, from $1.85 to $2.25 a pound, according to quality.



VALERIAN.


Valerian (_Valeriana officinalis_) is a hardy herbaceous perennial,
well known under the name "garden heliotrope" and often grown as an
ornamental plant. It has also been cultivated as a drug plant in New
York and in parts of New England. The dried roots (rhizome and roots)
form the marketable drug.

Valerian grows well in all ordinary soils, but thrives in a rich and
rather heavy loam which is well supplied with moisture. It may be
readily propagated by dividing the old roots, either in the fall or in
the spring, and setting the divisions about a foot apart in rows 2 to
3 feet apart. If the divisions are set very early in the fall in time
to become well established before frost, a good crop may usually be
harvested the following autumn. Plants may also be grown from seed,
which are preferably sown as soon as they are ripe in well-protected
seed beds in the garden. Early in the spring the seedlings may be
transplanted to the field and set at the same distances apart as the
divisions of the root. Growth will be favored by a liberal application
of farmyard manure, which should be well worked into the soil before
the plants are set out. Thorough cultivation is essential.

The roots of the plants propagated by division may be dug in the fall
of the first year's growth, although the yield will probably be small.
Those of seedling plants do not usually reach a size suitable for
harvesting before the end of the second growing season. After digging,
the roots are washed, preferably in running water, until all adhering
soil is removed. Washing and drying will be facilitated if the thick
portion of the roots is sliced lengthwise. The drying should be very
thorough, and the use of artificial heat will be found advisable.

Under good conditions a yield of 2,000 pounds or more of dried roots
per acre may reasonably be expected. The prewar price ranged from 6
to 30 cents a pound, depending upon the place where grown, that from
England usually commanding the highest price. The wholesale price in
June, 1920, was about 22 cents a pound.



VETIVER.


Vetiver, or cuscus grass (_Vetiveria zizanioides_), is a perennial
of the grass family, native to southern Asia. It is occasionally
cultivated in this country in the warmer portions of the Gulf Coast
States as an ornamental and also for its aromatic roots, which are
often used to impart a fragrance to clothing. In other countries an oil
is distilled from the roots and used in the manufacture of perfumes.

Vetiver will grow in almost any soil, but light, sandy soil enriched by
farmyard manure is to be preferred. Propagation is effected by dividing
old Clumps, which may be set in the field, either in the fall or
spring, about 4 or 5 feet apart each way. During the growing season the
plants are given sufficient cultivation to keep them free from weeds.
Vetiver grows in close bunches from 6 to 8 feet high, the numerous
roots spreading horizontally about 2 feet on all sides of the plant.

Harvesting the roots, which usually takes place in November, is a
laborious operation. The soil about the plants is opened with a stout,
sharp spade in a circle large enough to include most of the roots. The
earth is then dug from beneath the center of the plant and the entire
clump lifted. The roots are first beaten or shaken to free them from
adhering soil, then cut off close to the root crown and thoroughly
washed. They may be dried in the open air, but it is preferable to
dry them in a closed room at a low temperature, since they lose in
fragrance if exposed to the hot sun or to a free circulation of air.

Yields at the rate of 600 to 1,000 pounds of dry roots per acre have
been obtained. The prices in the markets of New Orleans are said to
range from 75 cents to $1 a pound. The oil is not produced commercially
in this country. The demand for both roots and oil is quite small, and
it has not yet been shown that vetiver would be a profitable crop in
the United States.



WINTERGREEN.


Wintergreen (_Gaultheria procumbens_) is a low-growing, broad-leaved,
evergreen plant with a creeping stem. The shoots from this stem grow to
a height of 4 to 5 inches and bear solitary white flowers, which are
followed by red berries. These berries are edible and are widely known
as teaberries or checkerberries. Wintergreen is a common plant in woods
and clearings from eastern Canada southward to the Gulf States, but its
collection in quantity is somewhat difficult. Both the dry herb and the
oil form marketable products.

Like other woodland plants, wintergreen thrives only in partial
shade, and plantings should be made in a grove or under a specially
constructed shade, such as is used for ginseng or goldenseal. A fairly
good growth may be expected in soil which is thoroughly mixed with
leaf mold to a depth of 4 inches or more. Wild plants may be used for
propagation. Divisions of these may be set in the fall or spring, about
6 inches apart each way, in permanent beds.

Wintergreen is usually gathered in October or at the end of the growing
season. The plants are carefully dried and packed in bags or boxes for
marketing. For the production of the volatile oil the plants are soaked
in water for about 24 hours and then distilled with steam. Over 22,000
pounds of wintergreen oil were produced in this country in 1909 and
6,000 pounds in 1914.

The prewar price of the oil distilled from the wintergreen plant as
quoted in the wholesale drug markets generally ranged from $3 to $5
a pound. Recently the lack of labor has reduced the output of oil,
and in consequence the price has advanced. The oil became practically
unobtainable on the markets in October, 1919, at which time it had
reached a price of $11 a pound. Collectors usually receive from 4 to 5
cents a pound for the dry herb. The results of numerous trials indicate
that, on account of the small yield, wintergreen production under
cultivation is not likely to be profitable at the prices quoted.



WORMSEED, AMERICAN.


American wormseed, or Jerusalem oak (_Chenopodium ambrosioides
anthelminticum_), is a coarse weed, occurring commonly in waste places
and often in cultivated ground throughout the eastern and southern
parts of the United States. The seeds (fruits) and the volatile oil
distilled from the tops of the plant are employed in medicine.

This plant grows well under cultivation in almost any soil, but a
good sandy loam is preferred. It is now cultivated for oil production
only in a small area in Carroll County, Md. The seed is sown in
well-prepared beds about March 1, and between May 15 and June 15, when
the seedlings are 4 to 5 inches tall, they are transplanted and set
about 10 inches apart in rows about 3 feet apart. The soil is kept
entirely free from weeds by shallow cultivation throughout the growing
season.

Harvesting is usually begun early in September or as soon as the seeds
have taken on a black color, but before the plants have turned brown.
If harvesting is delayed until the plants are fully mature there will
be considerable loss through shattering and a diminution in the yield
of oil when they are distilled. The crop is harvested with large knives
or sickles, either by cutting off the entire plant at the ground or
by cutting the branches separately. The latter method saves the labor
of handling a quantity of useless woody material and also requires a
smaller still capacity to handle the crop. After cutting, the plants
are laid out on the ground in rows and allowed to cure for about three
days before they are distilled.

In the South wormseed has been grown successfully as a seed crop.
The ground is prepared in February and laid off in rows about 4 feet
apart. A furrow is opened in each row, in which a complete fertilizer
is applied at the rate of 400 to 500 pounds per acre. The soil on each
side of the row is thrown in with a turnplow, forming a low ridge,
which is then flattened with a light roller. The seeds are sown on this
ridge with a drill. The plants are thinned to stand 18 inches apart in
the row and are given frequent shallow cultivation.

The crop should be ready for harvesting late in July or early in August
and should be cut before the tops begin to take on a brown color. The
plants are cut either with a mower or old-style grain reaper and are
left in the field until thoroughly dry. They may be housed and the seed
thrashed out when convenient, but, since the seeds shatter easily,
waste will be avoided if the plants are thrown upon large canvas
sheets and the seed thrashed out in the field. The seed is light and
not easily cleaned, but wire sieves of suitable mesh have proved very
satisfactory for this purpose.

The yield of seed per acre averages about 1,000 pounds. The yield of
oil varies, but under favorable conditions about 40 pounds per acre
is regarded as a fair average. The area planted varies according to
the price of the oil and may range from 175 to 450 acres. The average
annual production of oil is estimated by producers to be 10,000 to
12,000 pounds.

The prewar price of wormseed ranged from 6 to 8 cents a pound. The
price in June, 1920, was about 15 cents a pound. The prewar price of
the oil ranged from $1.40 to $5.50 a pound. The price in June, 1920,
was $9 to $9.50 a pound.



WORMWOOD.


Wormwood (_Artemisia absinthium_) is a hardy herbaceous Old World
perennial of the aster family, which has escaped from cultivation
in this country and now occurs as a weed in many localities in the
southern part of the United States. For many years it has been grown
commercially on a small scale, chiefly in Michigan and Wisconsin. The
dried leaves and tops have long been used medicinally, but the volatile
oil distilled from the plant now forms the principal marketable product.

Wormwood will grow in almost any soil, but the best results are to
be expected in deep, rich, moderately moist loams. The seeds are
frequently sown broadcast early in the fall, following a grain crop;
but if the plants are to be cultivated, it is best to start them from
seeds sown in seed beds early in the spring or from cuttings of the
young shoots taken in the spring and rooted in sand under glass or
in the shade of a lath shed. The seeds are very small and should be
sown on the surface of the soil in coldframes or seed beds and lightly
covered with very fine sandy soil. The plants are easily handled and
may be transplanted in moist weather with good results at almost any
time during the growing season. They are set about 18 inches apart in
rows 3 or 4 feet apart and are well cultivated. The soil should be kept
absolutely free from weeds, since their presence in the crop at harvest
time seriously damages the quality of the oil. A fair cutting of the
herb may be expected the first year after planting and full crops for
two or three successive, seasons, after which new plantings will be
found more satisfactory.

The plants are harvested when in full bloom and may be cut with a
scythe, or a reaper may be used if the area is large. While still
fresh, the plants are distilled with steam to obtain the volatile oil.
To prepare the leaves and flowering tops for market they are stripped
from the stems by hand after the plants are cut and carefully dried in
the shade without the use of artificial heat.

Experimental plantings have given yields at the rate of 2,000 pounds of
dry tops or 40 pounds of oil per acre. When grown on a commercial scale
the yield of oil appears to average about 20 pounds per acre.

The prewar price of the dry tops was about 6 or 7 cents a pound. Its
price in June, 1920, was 17 to 18 cents a pound. The oil was once used
extensively in the manufacture of absinth, but when the use of this
product was restricted in 1912 the demand for the oil fell off and the
price declined, until in the early part of 1915 it reached the low
level of $2 a pound. The price in June, 1920, was about $13 a pound.
The average annual production of oil of wormwood is about 2,000 pounds.
Owing to the limited use of this oil, there appears to be little room
for further profitable expansion of this industry.


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Transcriber Note

Illustrations relocated to avoid splitting paragraphs. Minor typos may
have been corrected.





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