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    Galax (Galax urceolata) is an evergreen groundcover harvested for use in the floral industry. The plant’s durable, shiny green leaves turn red in the fall and are popular background foliage in floral arrangements. People living in the mountains of North Carolina and other rural Appalachian locations have harvested (pulled) galax to supplement their incomes since before the 20th century; however, over the last decade, Hispanic laborers have largely displaced local harvesters. Today, more than 90 percent of the harvesters are of Hispanic origin. An experienced harvester can pull approximately 5,000 leaves a day; the value of this amount can range from $20 to $120. Prices vary depending on the season, the size and color of the leaves, and market demand. Industry concern for the availability or sustainability of galax has prompted the USDA Forest Service to restrict the harvest season. Since 2001, no harvesting is allowed from May 1 through June 15 when new leaves are emerging. The USDA Forest Service and the National Park Service are both conducting research to determine sustainable harvest levels.

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    Predny, Mary L.; Chamberlain, James L. 2005. Galax (Galax urceolata):an annotated bibliography. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-87. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 33 p.


    Conservation, floral industry, galas, nontimber forest products, poaching

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