Non-Timber Forest Products

Jim Chamberlain holding ramp. Photo by Gary Kauffman, USDA Forest Service

From walking sticks to herbal medicines

Jim Chamberlain, research forest products technologist with Southern Research Station Forest Inventory and Analysis unit, organizes non-timber forest products into four general categories:

1)      Edible and culinary products harvested from the forest include mushrooms, ferns, and the fruits, leaves, and roots of many plant species. Edibles commonly gathered and sold throughout the Southeast include ramps, fiddleheads, poke salat, black walnuts, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, persimmons, and acorns.

2)      Specialty wood products are considered non-timber if they are produced from woody vines, saplings, or parts of trees, but not from sawn wood. Examples include carvings and turnings, utensils, and containers. Also included are walking sticks made from branches, furniture made from branches and vines, and musical instruments made from wood not sawn from logs. 

Fine art box made by local artist Gary Goodman. Photo by Gary Goodman.

3)      Floral and decorative products include the crooked wood gathered in Florida forests for dried flower arrangements, grapevine used to make wreaths and baskets, and galax leaves gathered for national and international floral markets. Several species of log moss and hanging Spanish moss harvested from southern hardwood forests are also used in the floral industry.

4)      Medicinal and dietary supplements are major products for the Southeast, particularly the Appalachian hardwood region, where Chamberlain has identified more than 50 plants with medicinal value. American ginseng, the most popular of these, is collected from 7 of the regions 13 states. Other medicinal plants collected from the Southeast include black cohosh and bloodroot. The pine forests of Florida are also the primary source for saw palmetto, a medicinal plant used to treat prostate problems.


Read about FIA efforts to track non-timber forest products.

Read about Chamberlain’s recent research on American ginseng.

 For more information: Jim Chamberlain at

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