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A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs: Of Eastern and Central North America (Peterson Field Guides) [Paperback]

by Steven Foster, James A. Duke, Roger Tory Peterson
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (173 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 28, 1999 0395988144 978-0395988145 2 Revised
With more than 300 photos, this new edition shows how to identify more than 500 healing plants. Descriptive text includes information on where the plants are found, as well as their known medicinal uses. An index to medical topics, symbols next to plant descriptions, and organization of plants by colors all make this an essential guide to understanding the traditional medicinal uses of the plants around us. At a time when interest in herbs and natural medicine has never been higher, the second edition of this essential guide shows how to identify more than five hundred kinds of healing plants. More than three hundred new color photos illustrate their flowers, leaves, and fruits. The updated descriptive text includes information on where the plants are found as well as their known medicinal uses. An index to medical topics is helpful for quickly locating information on specific ailments, from asthma and headaches to colds and stomachaches. Symbols next to plant descriptions give readers a quick visual alert to plants that are poisonous or may cause allergic reactions. Organized by plant color for fast identification, this guide is an indispensable tool for understanding the traditional medicinal uses of the plants and herbs around us.

Frequently Bought Together

A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs: Of Eastern and Central North America (Peterson Field Guides) + A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and central North America (Peterson Field Guides) + The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants
Price for all three: $34.72

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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.

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: 7.2 x 4.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (173 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,919 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
67 of 67 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs April 22, 2000
By A Customer
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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119 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An herbal degree in our pocket 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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107 of 114 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Just Enough To Get You In Trouble 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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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing Herbal Lore for the Amateur Botanist 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very GOod
THis is a wonderful guide. I took it out to a wild edibles and it was very easy to identifiy plants.
Published 2 days ago by Waltasha
2.0 out of 5 stars GOOD ONLY FOR IDENTIFACTION OF WILD FOODS
Identification of wild medicinal plants, but lack of information of how to use these plants. No form of educational material in the way people can make use of these plants.
Published 13 days ago by Nancy A.
5.0 out of 5 stars great resource
great book I carry it around everywhere and use it sooooooo many times.
a great book for anyone who likes outdoors.
Published 16 days ago by caleb
5.0 out of 5 stars I have a ton of books like this one but I liked the size and the...
I hope to start teaching my grand daughter the fine art of medicinal plants which I have been practicing for nearly 40 years. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Cynthia M. Mckim
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book very informative on the natural plants ....
In the central and eastern US. Great info for understanding where plants come from when you purchase medicinal herbs. I used this book for a college class
Published 18 days ago by gg
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Informative
This is a good reference book for anyone looking to get into medicinal plants and herbs. It has good information for even the person who does not know anything about medicinal... Read more
Published 21 days ago by DrKay
5.0 out of 5 stars AWESOME book for Missouri
I knew right off the bat this would be useful. I grew up here in Missouri using roots, flowers, and leaves in medicinal teas that I was taught by my father, who was taught by his... Read more
Published 22 days ago by Zack C. Hornbuckle
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book about plants.
Very informative. Great pictures. I would recommended this book if anyone is trying to learn about plants. Great book and price.
Published 24 days ago by Aviano14
5.0 out of 5 stars Must have if you're into this stuff.
Comprehensive, compact, very portable, and easy to read. Highly recommend for those interested in minimalist living, survival, living off the grid, or whatever.
Published 1 month ago by sdmumf
3.0 out of 5 stars it okay
It tells you what herbs do what but not really how to use then such as dosage amounts kinda seems dangerous to go ingesting plants without know how much is safe
Published 1 month ago by imchupacabra
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