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A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs: Of Eastern and Central North America (Peterson Field Guides) Paperback – December 28, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0395988145 ISBN-10: 0395988144 Edition: 2 Revised

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Roger Tory Peterson, one of the world's greatest naturalists, received every major award for ornithology, natural science, and conservation as well as numerous honorary degrees, medals, and citations, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Peterson Identification System has been called the greatest invention since binoculars. These editions include updated material by Michael O'Brien, Paul Lehman, Bill Thompson III, Michael DiGiorgio, Larry Rosche, and Jeffrey A. Gordon.

With more than 40 years of experience in the herbal field, Steven Foster is author, co-author, and photographer of seventeen books. He lives in Eureka Springs Arkansas, in the heart of the medicinal plant-rich Ozarks.

With more than six decades of experience as a botanist, and three decades in medical botany James A. Duke is the author of more than 20 books. He lives in Fulton, Maryland, surrounded by some 300 medicinal plants.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

BALSAM FIR Resin, leaves Abies balsamea (L.) Mill Pine Family

Spire-shaped tree; to 60 ft. Flattish needles, to 11?4 in. long, in flattened sprays; stalkless. Needles rounded at base, each with 2 white lines beneath. Cones 1–4 in. long, erect; purple to green, scales mostly twice as long as broad. Bark smooth, with numerous resin pockets. Where found: Moist woods. Canada, south through New England and along mountains to Va. and W. Va.; west through n. Ohio to ne. Iowa, Mich. Uses: Canada Balsam, an oleoresin, is collected by cutting bark blisters or pockets in wood, July–Aug. Used as an antiseptic, in creams and ointments for piles, and as a root-canal sealer. Diuretic (may irritate mucous membranes). American Indians applied resin as an analgesic for burns, sores, bruises, and wounds. Leaf tea used for colds, coughs, and asthma. The oleoresin is pale yellow to greenish yellow; transparent and pleasantly scented. Its primary commercial application has been as a sealing agent for mounted microscope slides. Warning: Resin may cause dermatitis in some individuals.

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Product Details

  • Series: Peterson Field Guides (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 2 Revised edition (December 28, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395988144
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395988145
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.8 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (241 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

It is a small sized book for easy carrying.
Diana L. Bowen
The pictures help identify the plants and the book is packed with information.
Traci Barlow
It is a very informational book and easy to read.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 73 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have just recently become interested in learning about the wild plants of my area and this book seems to be the most extensive resource about medicinal plants available. I like it because it is clear and concise, contains information on plant use and history, has color photographs to go with each entry, and includes poisonous look-a-likes and possible side effects of otherwise safe plants. I do, however, find the organization to be a bit confusing. For instance, it is simple to find the section on plants with yellow flowers, the pages are color coded, but difficult to differentiate between sections for button like composite flowers and dandelion like flowers. This results in a lot of time spent looking at pictures of yellow flowers. I much prefer the orginization of the Peterson Guide to Edible Wild Plants, which is similar but more clearly labled. I also think that the line pictures in that book have many benifits over the photographs contained in the medicinal plants field guide. The drawings offer well focused close up views from more than one angle if neccessary, this is not always possible with photos and a few pictures in the book are fuzzy. Overall I think that this is an excellent resource book.
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134 of 141 people found the following review helpful By Dorothy T. Brouse on May 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
It is obvious that the other reviewers haven't tried to use this book to do actual field research. I have Peterson's Edible Wild Plants, Eastern Trees, and Mushroom Guides. All three of those books were well done with focus on the unique traits of each plant. They have hand drawn pictures as well as photos with a complete description of each plant. This book has photos of plants mixed with other plants so you can't tell one from the other, has a photo of just one part of the plant, or no photo at all. The Yarrow looks like Poison Hemolck and the Sweet Grass is just the grass blades, no identifying traits at all. The descriptions are scant and half the time they don't know if the plant is poisonous or not "Warning: May be poisonous." And don't even try to use the cross-reference in the back for it is labor intensive. They don't tell you what the plants are truly good for but what the plants have been used for since the time of Adam. I have taken this book in the field 6 times and have not been able to positively identify a single plant without cross-referencing it with Peterson's Edible Wild Plant Guide. I was sorely disappointed with this book especially after using the other Peterson Guides. I don't know how they even consider this a field guide. It should be called "Medicinal Plants and Herbs Fun Facts But Don't Actually Use It Guide". The only thing it is good for is tricking others into thinking you know what you are doing.
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121 of 128 people found the following review helpful By GENE GERUE on May 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
Here is everything that a field guide should be and contain--small enough to stick into a pocket but comprehensive, definitive, dependable and well-illustrated. Pictures, descriptions, locations, uses, warnings. Foster is not only an herbalist of the first rank but one of the finest plant photographers out there clicking. His gorgeous Healing Plants calendar is on my wall; the verdant photos provide daily pleasure. Herbal preparations as alternatives to synthetic drugs are increasingly chosen. St. John's Wort for depression, Saw Palmetto for prostate treatment, Goldenseal for a multitude of symptoms. Not typically thought of as herbs, trees are also a part of our living pharmacy and 66 are included here. Ginkgolides extracted from leaves of the Ginkgo tree (ginkgo biloba) are the best-selling herbal preparation in Europe. Aspirin derives from the willow. Amongst shrubs I learned that Hawthorn leaf and flower preparations are used in Germany to treat congestive heart failure, based on at least 14 controlled clinical studies. With increasing usage, many plants are in danger of being overharvested. Conservation is necessary to preserve a viable natural community of plants that can and may help alleviate human suffering. Stopping plant thieves is a law enforcement challenge but easy identification of plants may save others of us from bulldozing a patch of ginseng for a house site. It is noted that Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida) "is common in eastern Kansas but it is very rare in western North Carolina at the eastern extreme of its range. The plant might be judiciously harvested in Kansas, but in North Carolina it should be left alone." More than just a field guide, Medicinal Plants and Herbs is an essential reference book for our personal library. The value of this big little book can hardly be overestimated.
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58 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Shawn Moses on November 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
Just when you thought there were no more plant identification guides to be written, Peterson's came out with this interesting little guide. In its pages you will find the many thousands of uses that numerous cultures have found for North American plants. From dubious cure-alls to modern cancer drugs, this guide describes them all, and their poisonous look alikes. If you already have Peterson's tree or wildflower guides, be prepared for a bit of Deja vu - there is considerable overlap in both text descriptions and illustrations. Also, don't set up your folk remedy pharmacy just yet - this book doesn't give dosage advice for the vast majority of species it describes. The authors are very strident in saying that this book is for information only, not clinical advice. That said, you will find innumerable fascinating tidbits of herbal lore between its covers.
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