Plants in Commerce Webinar Series

This webinar series will feature experts on specific plants exploring issues of quality, sustainability and equity.

Previous Webinars

Saw Palmetto: A Conversation on Sustainability, Quality, and Authentication with ABC Board Member Steven Foster, ABC’s Chief Science Officer Stefan Gafner,  Ed Fletcher,  an herb industry veteran with decades of experience and President, Native Botanicals, and Umasudhan Pal., CEO at Valensa International

Saw palmetto berry harvest.

Saw palmetto berry harvest. Photo by Steven Foster.

Where do the saw palmetto berries come from? Nearly the entire commercial supply of saw palmetto fruit (Serenoa repens, Arecaceae), or “berries” as they are called in the herbal trade, is wild-harvested primarily in Florida, and to a lesser extent, southeastern Georgia. We will explore the saw palmetto berry harvest, which is done by hand with seasonal labor, beginning with a review of the 2020 seasons harvest. The focus will include challenges and opportunities related to sustainability, quality, adulteration, and bringing high quality saw palmetto extracts to world markets for the benefit of consumers.


Date: Thursday, Oct. 8, 2-3 PM EDT

Free registration here.

About the speakers

Steven Foster, ABC Board Member

For more than four decades, herbalist, author and photographer, Steven Foster, has photographed and researched herbs from the Amazon rainforest to the highlands of Vietnam. Foster has over 900 photo-illustrated articles published in a wide range of media. He has served on the American Botanical Council’s Board of Trustees since 1998. His photos and articles are frequently featured in HerbalGram, for which he also serves as a Contributing Editor. Steven has worked closely with ABC since its founding in 1988. Steven is the author, co-author, and photographer of 18 books as of 2018.

Stefan Gafner, PhD, Chief Science Officer at the American Botanical Council

Stefan Gafner, PhD, is the technical director of the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program (BAPP), editor of the Botanical Adulterants Monitor, and writes articles for HerbalGram and HerbalEGram. Dr. Gafner received his degree in pharmacy at the University of Bern School of Pharmacy in Bern, Switzerland. He earned his doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences — with a focus on phytochemistry (the chemistry of plants) — at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, from the internationally respected phytochemist Professor Kurt Hostettmann. Highlights of Dr. Gafner’s career include the discovery of dozens of new natural products, the development of more than 40 methods for the identification and authentication of herbal extracts, and the validation of methods for more than 20 over-the-counter drug ingredients for consumer products.

Edward Fletcher, President & COO of Native Botanicals, Inc., SHP Advisory Group Member 

Ed Fletcher has worked in the horticultural industry for over 35 years, starting with propagating and growing native American wildflowers in his family’s ornamental nursery business in North Carolina. He established and developed the cultivation department for Wilcox Natural Products into what many considered the best in the industry, managing over 3,000 hectares of crops around the world. Edward is previous Chairperson and current member of the AHPA board and as well as the Botanical Raw Materials Committee Chairperson. He has worked with USAID as a Medicinal Plant Expert on the Island of Dominica to develop a line of medicinal teas based on the traditional knowledge of the Kalinago Indians.

Umasudhan Pal., CEO at Valensa International
Fascinated by phytonutrients and botanicals, Uma has dedicated himself to the world of nutraceuticals over 2 decades. He is currently the CEO, and Board Member of Valensa. Uma has been part of the leadership team to keep Valensa on a growth trajectory focused on: Microalgae ‘greens’, Saw Palmetto ‘Prostate’ and Joint health. Umasudhan has a Bachelor of Engineering in Agriculture, Master’s in International Business, Executive MBA program- University of Central Florida and Wharton Business School. His personal goal is to continue offering good health & nutrition into the hands of the global consumer.



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