Nerve root - Cypripedium.

Date: Sat, 16 Mar 1996 12:59:02 -0800
From: Howie Brounstein <howieb.TELEPORT.COM>
Subject: Re: Valerian comparison query

>Is nerve root available in bulk? Is it organically grown, cultivated, and/or wild-collected?

Cypripedium is not to my knowledge grown or cultivated in large amounts. This group of plants are rare orchids, difficult to cultivate, and generally threatened or endangered in the United States. Do not use this herb. Do not buy this herb. Any herb seller who sells these plants is extremely naive or unethical. The are many other calming herbs to use instead.

From: Chris Utterback <robertu.PC.JARING.MY>

>The comments so far about Valerian and Hops match my experiences.
>How does Nerve Root (Cypripedium pubescens) compare?
>(AKA: American valerian, bleeding heart, lady's slipper,, moccasin flower, monkey flower, Noah's ark, slipper root, Venus shoe, yellow lady's slipper, yellows.)

This is a very endangered wildflower that has been less than honestly *nursery grown* in the past. I hope that you are not harvesting this plant or purchasing it from unsubstantiated sources. It also rarely survives transplanting from the wild.

From: Howie Brounstein <howieb.TELEPORT.COM>

> Howie: if these things are so endangered, why then shouldn't they be propagated by tissue culture?

Sounds good, but who will do it? I don't know much about it, do you think it would be commercially feasible? Would we end up with new whole plants, or just a plate of Orchid tissue? Do you think it would work? Do you think we could get enough from this method?

>That would solve the problem, wouldn't it?

If it worked, and it was cheap enough, it would solve the problem from medicinal harvesting, but what about the collectors who try and sell them as live plants for gardening and ornamental purposes. I think this was the major cause of the decline of these Orchids.

But in reality, it's only treating the symptom. They'll be another rare orchid, another popular herb harvested to the brink of extinction until folks realize that you don't usually need the today's most popular herb shipped 13,000 miles from some forest to you, only to be used for its astringent effect. Some astringent from the empty lot next door would have cleared that problem up pronto.

Still, it comes down to why you are using a rare orchid, or any rare, exotic, or expensive herb. Most folks never even try their local plants first. The morality of taking an endangered plant becomes blurry if you are terminally ill, or in a physical state of emergency and the plant is the only medicine available.

But for calming down from a hectic day, or relaxing tight leg muscles .... there's valerian, skullcap, hops, passionflower, Pedicularis, vervain, etc., etc., etc. These should be tried first, I'm sure one of them would work, eliminating the need for Cypripedium.

From: Chris Utterback <robertu.PC.JARING.MY>
Subject: Re: meds from rare orchids

Howie, I totally agree with you. Tissue culture takes a lot of time and money and you know, that herb's fad life may be over by the time they can get it tissue cultured, so how could they make their zillions of dollars in the meantime? And, that's exactly why trilliums that take three seasons to propagate are being ripped out of their habitat, and Cypripediums, and pitcher plants (so someone can arrange them in a wreath). And why many well-known nurseries have in the past paid pennies for illegally wildcrafted plants that they would put in a pot for one season and then call *nursery grown* to get around the endangered species laws. Penny wise, pound foolish. I know where there are hundreds of pink lady slippers but I won't tell anyone who would even consider picking or digging them up. Every year a friend and I climb up a mountain to see them and check on their numbers. So far, so good as this orchid has been known to completely die out on it's own. It doesn't need any push. Additionally, Steven Foster did some work several years ago to educate the medicinal herb industry and get them to be responsible in their wildcrafting of these orchids and other medicinals.

Off my soapbox,

From: "Peter L. Schuerman" <plschuerman.UCDAVIS.EDU>

I hope I can clear up some misconceptions that the previous message might have created.

> I've gleaned some stuff from various sources, and paraphrased and condensed it. You can hit the delete key now if you want. I hope it will answer your question if we would get just cells, tissue or plants:
> Tissue culture is just a way of getting an artificial seed from all plant cells.

This isn't true. Plant tissue culture is a way of growing plant tissue that has been excised from the plant. Ever cut a piece of tissue off of a plant? Notice how it will die? This is because it's been cut off from water, nutrients, and chemical signals (growth regulators) which it was receiving from the plant. Tissue culture (TC) is the art of keeping pieces of tissue (called "explants") alive and encouraging them to grow in specific ways. Artificial seed production is only one example of what can be done with TC.

> When you apply cellulase or something that will disolve the cellulose around the cells like polyethylene glycol (in antifreeze and some hemmorrhoid medicine) then the chromasomes start lining themselves up and dividing.

Polyethylene glycol doesn't dissolve cell walls. It is sometimes used for something called protoplast transformation, but not for this.

Also, cellulase treatment is *not* what causes cell division (I assume that this is what you are talking about when you mention dividing chromosomes). It is growth regulators in the growth medium (cytokinins, auxins) that stimulate the cells to grow. In fact, for most applications a cellulase treatment is unnecessary --- you only use this if you are going to make protoplasts.

> These have to be placed on a nutrient medium with a gelantinous base (I've got some agar recipes around somewhere) where they continue to divide still confused as to whether they are a root or a leaf (differentiation) then a lump of cells is picked up and put on another

To clarify: The cells are placed in or on a nutrient medium (not thechromosomes!). The medium may be used as a liquid, for suspension cultures, or solidified with agar (not gelatin!). The way the cells grow and differentiate depends on the kinds of growth regulators present, and their relative amounts.

> medium with auxins or some other hormone where it should sprout. Like any other seedling, the biggest problem is damping off.

Damping off is due to pathogens. Tissue culture must be performed under completely sterile conditions. If you do it right, damping off doesn't occur. "Plantlets" from TC are susceptible to desication, however... they get used to the humid conditions found inside a culture vessel and can be stressed out by being removed into the open air.

> Oh yeah, you want to keep your petri dishes or test tubes covered so you're not culturing all kinds of pathogens.

Also, you need a laminar flow hood or other sterile work chamber, a bunsen burner to sterilize instruments, and plenty of alcohol to wipe down surfaces and hands to keep them clean.

This thread started with talking about TC of orchids. If anyone is interested in the possibility of doing this, it would be an excellent idea to check the literature, to see if anyone has ever cultured the orchid in question. Working out the specific details of how to get a new plant to grow in culture (especially something exotic like an orchid) can take years of dedicated effort. It would be great if someone has already worked it out for you!