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Herb, Aromatic, Medicinal, Bioactive

Indiana CropMAP

Prepared by Dr. James E. Simon, Center for New Crops and Plant Products, Purdue University, © 1998. This is a list of herb, aromatic, medicinal, and bioactive crops that are either currently grown, are recommended alternate crops, are experimental crops, or are not recommended for Indiana. Crops in this listing should be considered high risk due to the volatile market and specialty niche marketing required. It is advised to have a market or buying agreement in advance of growing for the dried botanical market or producing an essential oil for the food, flavor, and fragrance industry. Certified organic production of any of these items will increase market opportunities.

Purdue University commercial vegetable and specialty crop production page

Existing or Traditional Crops
Recommended New, Alternate or Underutilized Crops
Experimental New Or Alternate Crops
Not Recommended

Existing or Traditional Crops
Ginseng American A native perennial requiring 60% shade, is well adapted to Indiana hardwood forests. Also cultivated in shade houses. Current market is depressed.
Pepper, Hot High quality peppers can be grown in Indiana. High-pigment types are an alternate potential market.
Peppermint Indiana ranks high nationally as a source of peppermint oil, but oil production only recommended for counties north of Indianapolis. Adapted to muck/organic soils as well as loamy mineral soils. For use as a fresh or dried herb, peppermint can be grown throughout Indiana. Market for the herb is limited.
Spearmint Indiana ranks high nationally as a source of spearmint oil, but oil production only recommended for counties north of Indianapolis. Adapted to muck/organic soils as well as loamy mineral soils. For use as a fresh or dried herb, spearmint can be grown throughout Indiana.
Recommended New, Alternate or Underutilized Crops
Angelica Very limited local markets for it's essential oils.
Anise Very limited local market as fresh herb. Not to be confused with Finnochio fennel which is now available in Indiana supermarkets and marketed as "anise." Seed production is too risky.
Artemisia/Sweet Annie Used for aromatic wreaths.
Basil Used fresh, dried, frozen, or as a source of essential oils.
Borage Recommended only as a culinary herb in Indiana for young leaves or fresh flowers. The seeds, which shatter upon maturity are an excellent source of the unusual fatty acid, gamma linolenic acid, but borage for seed production is risky.
Burdock Same variety as vegetable burdock. The deep roots are the product of commerce.
Catnip Perennial crop, well adapted to Indiana. Grown for use as a dried herb. The leaves contain an aromatic essential oil, in which nepetalactone is the conpound which stimulates cats. This compound is not very stable, so shelf life of dried catnip and catnip oil is not long.
Chicory Perennial herb adapted for Indiana. The thick dried roots are the product of commerce. Also a source of maltose. Whitloof chicory is a different type and is a specialty vegetable
Chives Adapted to northern and central Indiana, for light well-drained mineral soils. Irrigation would be required. Good potential for fresh market.
Cilantro An annual well adapted to the state with excellent fresh market potential. Can also be grown for the dried or essential oil market, but these latter two uses are not recommended in Indiana. Spring and late summer sown crop.
Coriander Potential as a seed crop but shattering during seed maturation makes this a high risk venture. Essential oil from seeds is also valuable.
Dill Well adapted to Indiana which in past years has produced up to 400 acres of dill for essential oil. Can be grown as a fresh market herb, foliage only or for the flowering unbels used in pickling. The plant can be grown for its essential oil, a rich source of d-carvone.
Echinacea Native to Indiana, and well adapted to the entire state, this is a promising crop. E. angustifolia, E. pallida, and E. purpurea are the species of commercial interest. There is a very strong market demand for this crop. The leaves and flowering tops as well as the roots are the products of commerce.
Fennel Recommended as a culinary herb with 'licorice' aroma and flavor. Types that produce an enlarged bulb-like leaf base are marketed as a specialty vegetable in supermarkets called Finnochio or 'anise'. Fennel seed as a spice is not recommended in the state of Indiana due to low yield.
Feverfew Well adapted to Indiana. The dried flowering top of this short-lived perennial is the product of commerce. This crop is very promising
Garlic Adapted in Indiana. Requires light sandy well-drained soil. Promising specialty fresh market item. Elephant garlic can also also be grown for the same market.
Ginseng American A native perennial requiring 60% shade, is well adapted to Indiana hardwood forests. Also cultivated in shade houses. Current market is depressed.
Goldenseal Native woodland botanical requiring ca. 65% shade. Prefers aerated soils, rich in organic matter in hardwood forests. Can be grown in shadehouses, but greater disease pressure and reduced growth relative to production in wooded areas have been observed.
Horseradish Limited acerage crop. Requires deep, well-drained soil. Root is the product of commerce. Limited market.
Leeks Recommended for northern and central Indiana, on light sandy well-drained soils, irrigation required. Good fresh market potential.
Marjoram Well adapted to Indiana. Fresh leaves (prior to flowering) are the product of commerce. Limited production/market potential. A good variety is difficult to find.
Oregano Well adapted to Indiana. Fresh leaves (prior to flowering) are the product of commerce. Limited production/market potential. A good variety is difficult to find.
Parsley Does well in either organic (muck) or mineral soils. Requires irrigation. Very expensive crop to produce for the fresh market.
Sage Well adapted to most of Indiana. Fresh leaves (prior to flowering) are the product of commerce. Can be grown for dried herb production or essential oil or oleoresin extraction, but market is limited. Sage is also of interest because of the presence of natural antioxidants.
Savory Adapted to Indiana. Fresh and dried leaves have limited market potential.
Shallot Recommended for northern and central Indiana, on light sandy well-drained soils, irrigation required. Good fresh market potential.
Tarragon Adapted to most of Indiana. Difficult to grow but excellent potential for the fresh market. Leaves are the product of commerce.
Valerian Adaptable to Indiana. Grows best on well-drained soils.
Vervain Verbena Adapted to Indiana, it is grown for it's flowering top leaves, stems, and flowers combined. Market for dried herb is limited.
Yellowdock Rumex? This plant is a weed in Indiana. Leaves and roots are harvested, dried, and sold as a botanical. Growers need to ensure that plants do not go to seed.
Experimental New Or Alternate Crops
Arrugula Very promising salad herb. Also called Roquette or Rocket salad. The fresh, flavorful greens are sold as a specialty herb or salad green. A cool season crop grown similar to radishes.
Astragulus A perennial legume native to northern China. The dried root from 4- to 7-year-old plants is the product of commerce. Good market potential, but little is known about yield potential, production cost, and profitability.
Black Cohosh Native woodland botanical requiring ca. 65% shade. Prefers aerated soils, rich in organic matter in hardwood forests. Can be grown in shadehouses, but greater disease pressure and reduced growth relative to production in wooded areas have been observed. Seed difficult to germinate, propagated from rootlets. Plant is receiving considerable consumer interest because the estrogenic terpenes may alleviate menopause. Very popular medicinal plant marketed and used in Europe. Demand is increasing in the US.
Bloodroot poisonNative woodland botanical. Prefers aerated soils, rich in organic matter in hardwood forests. Source of sanguinarine and other alkaloids. Plant is poisonous—do not consume.
Blue Cohosh Native woodland botanical. Prefers aerated soils, rich in organic matter in hardwood forests.
Calamus/Sweetflag Aromatic perennial; the rhizome is the product of commerce. Native to wet soils and swampy areas and thus adapted to poorly drained fields. Grows in partial or full sunlight.
Calendula Adaptable to Indiana. The dried flowers and flowering tops are the product of commerce. Of interest for its floral pigments and natural products for which it's grown as a medicinal herb.
Caraway Both annual and biennial varieties are available. Produced for it's highly aromatic seed. Doubtful that it could be profitable in Indiana as a seed crop or for essential oil production.
Chamomile Adaptable to light well-drained soils in Indiana. Commercial production is limited by lack of good varieties and harvesting equipment needed to collect the flowers.
Chervil Can be grown as a fresh market salad herb. Market potential may be quite limited. Can be grown in partial shade on well-drained soils.
Clary Sage A biennial sage not well adapted to Indiana. Grown for sclereol and essential oil extracted from the flowers.
Cumin Short stature and long growing season limit harvestability in Indiana. Might have potential in southern tier of counties, on well drained sandy loam soils. High risk.
Dandelion The herb and root are both products of commerce. The fresh or dried tops and dried roots can be marketed. Horticultural varieties are available. Care should be taken to not increase Indiana's existing dandelion weed population.
Elecampane Perennial herb, roots are the product of commerce. Limited market potential. Should be produced in concert with a botanical buyer.
Eleuthero/Eleutherococcus Perennial shrub native to Northeast Asia, the root is the product of commerce.
Evening Primrose Oenothera Recommended if grown in concert with a buyer. Production can be completely mechanized, including combining the seed. Seed are the product of commerce and contain the unusual fatty acid, gamma linolenic acid.
Eyebright/Lobelia Many species of this annual herb are collected from the wild in the US and commercially produced in Europe. The dried herb of this medicinal plant is the product of commerce.
Gentian This plant, native to the high mountainous areas of France and Europe is problematic and risky for Indiana.
Ginkgo Well adapted to Indiana. The leaves and fruit of this deciduous tree are used as medicinals by Europeans and Chinese respectively.
Ginseng, Asian or Siberian See Eleuthero
Hawthorn These small trees or shrubs are adapted to Indiana. European hawthorn is grown for the flowering tops and fruits, Chinese hawthorn is grown for it's fruit.
Horehound Adapted to well-drained soils in Indiana. Dried flowering tops, a source of marrubium, are the product of commerce. Limited market.
Hyssop Adapted to well-drained soils in Indiana. Dried flowering tops are the product of commerce. Very limited market. Used as a flavoring agent and a medicinal. Recent interest is due in part to extracts exhibiting antiviral activity.
Klamath weed See St. John's Wort
Lavender Hardy varieties are well adapted to Indiana. Beautiful ornamental perennial plant. Potential market for fresh and dried flowers. Entry into the essential oil market is not recommended unless you can produce an organic oil or find a market requiring oil produced in Indiana.
Lemon Balm Well adapted to Indiana. A perennial herb grown for its aromatic leaves. Limited market potential.
Lovage Very limited local markets for it's essential oils.
Mayapple/Podophyllum A woodland botanical, native to Indiana, and now collected from the wild in Indiana. As the price has been low, commercial production cannot be recommended. Mayapple could have potential should prices increase, or the supply in other states become limited. It is an important source of podophyllin and podophyllotoxin.
Milk Thistle Silybum marianum Of interest to the botanical trade for its fruit. Seeds contain silymarin and other products. Caution: potentially noxious weed.
Passionfruit Limited to southern Indiana counties, where Passiflora incarnata is native. The dried flowering top is the product of commerce in the botanical trade.
Pennyroyal Perennial European pennyroyal and the annual American pennyroyal can be grown in Indiana. The dried leaves and essential oil are products of commerce. Very limited market.
Pepper, Hot High quality peppers can be grown in Indiana. High-pigment types are an alternate potential market.
Polygonum Many species in this genus are wildcrafted and cultivated as medicinal plants.
Fo-Ti (P. multiflorum) is a perennial vine native to China cultivated for it's 3- to 4-year-old tubers. Several types and processed forms are available. Adaptability to Indiana is not known.
Huzhang (P. cuspidatum), or giant knotweed is a perennial plant native to China and potentially adapted to Indiana. Rhizomes and roots are dried and marketed.
Roquette or Rocket See Arrugula
Rosemary Only winter hardy 'Arp' variety recommended for southern counties.
St. John's Wort Caution: this plant is a noxious weed in other states. It has received extensive publicity as a natural antidepressant due to the presence of hypericin. The plant is difficult to grow due to many diseases and insect pests, but it appears to be adaptable to Indiana. Grows under full sun. Limited information about profitability in production. Serious disease problems have been observed in Indiana.
Stinging Nettles
Urtica dioica
Potentially adaptable to most of Indiana. This perennial plant is grown for its dried leaves and roots. Care is required when working with the plant.
Thyme This perennial aromatic herb is adaptable to Indiana. Fresh and dried leaves are the products of commerce. Tall, upright French thyme is desired. Limited market for essential oil production.
Watercress Specialized growing conditions are required for this perennial aquatic herb. Fresh herb is marketed.
Wintergreen A perennial aromatic herb and the true source of oil of wintergreen. Market is very limited, synthetic oil and Birch oil has replaced natural oil of wintergreen. Adaptable to Indiana but should only be grown in connection with a market for American wintergreen oil.
Witch Hazel A deciduous shrub adaptable to Indiana. Can be grown as an ornamental. Dried leaves, bark and twigs are products of commerce, and contain natural products of medicinal value. No cultivation or market information is available.
Wormwood There is a limited market for the essential oil of perennial wormwood (Artemisia absinthium). Commercial production is currently limited to Michigan. The plant is well adapted to northern Indiana. For information about artemisia or Sweet Annie, see artemisia (Artemisia annua).
Yarrow Perennial herb well adapted to Indiana. Can be grown for its fresh or dried flowers. Also a source of essential oil extracted when plants are in full bloom. Can cause contact dermatitis.
Not Recommended
Belladonna/Deadly nightshade Solanum dulcamara or Atropa belladonna? poisonNot recommended as it is a poisonous plant. Contains compounds used in the pharmaceutical industry. Growers may have read about this plant as a source of tropane alkaloids, primarily, atropine. A problem weed in Indiana
Cascara/Holy Bark Not recommended for commercial production despite that the slow growing tree native to the Pacific Northwest can be grown in Indiana.
Ephedra poisonNot recommended despite its popularity in the press. Plant is poisonous and could be misused. Also called Chinese ephedra or Mahuang, this small shrub native to central Asia has entered the herbal marketplace with much fanfare and publicity, but misuse by the industry components and consumers led to recent side affects and associated problems.
Foxglove poisonNot recommended as the plant is poisonous if ingested. The cardiac glycosides are potent and while used as a source of pharmaceutical products, the plant should NEVER be used as a tea or culinary or medicinal herb. Foxglove is and should be grown only as an ornamental flowering plant in the garden, not for commercial purposes unless under contract and supervision with a pharmaceutical company. This would be difficult to achieve in the midwest.
Pacific Yew: Taxus spp. Not recommended. This plant and related species have been touted in the popular press as a source of taxol, a compound now approved for the treatment of ovarian cancer, but the market will be very difficult to penetrate. Related Taxus spp. which may contain taxol are well adapted to Indiana.
Saffron Although adapted for Indiana it is not recommended for commercial production.
Stevia Adaptable to Indiana, but not recommended until it is legally approved to be used as a sweetener in the US.
The Herb, Aromatic, Medicinal, and Bioactive Crop listing was compiled and written by Dr. James E. Simon, Center for New Crops and Plant Products, Purdue University, © 1998. Questions related to these plants should be addressed to Dr. Simon at jesimon@aesop.rutgers.edu