Medicinal plants offer good profit potential

By Tom Lollis

Medicinal PlantsIt has taken six years, but the know-how for growing medicinal plants such as feverfew and Echinacea may now be ready for South Carolina farmers, said horticulturist Bob Dufault at the Coastal Research and Education Center in Charleston. Also known as nutraceuticals, medicinal plants have good profit potential for growers who contract with processors.

“An acre of feverfew has the potential to gross about $7,000 and Echinacea, about $5,000,” Dufault said. Feverfew is used as a remedy for migraine headaches and Echinacea is used as to aid the immune system.

A team of Clemson scientists have identified medicinal plant varieties that can tolerate South Carolina’s climate, determined the most effective cultural practices, and developed post-harvest handling methods that preserve potency.

“The biggest problem we’ve had is weeds,” Dufault said. A living mulch of Regal ladino clover shows promise. It chokes out tough weeds such as nutgrass and fixes nitrogen as a bonus. Solarization – using plastic sheeting to heat the soil before crops are planted – provides a non-chemical approach to kill nematodes, fungi and weed seeds.

For information: Bob Dufault, 843-402-5389,