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Native American Ethnobotany Hardcover – Illustrated, August 1, 1998

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Editorial Reviews


" Native American Ethnobotany is an essential reference for all those interested in the uses of plants."
Wild Food Forum, March 2005

Book Description

An extraordinary compilation of the plants used by North American native peoples for medicine, food, fiber, dye, and a host of other things. More than 44,000 uses for some 4000 plants by various tribes are documented here.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 927 pages
  • Publisher: Timber Press, Incorporated; 1 edition (August 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881924539
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881924534
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.7 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

83 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Melodye Murphy on November 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Ever since I was a little girl I have been fascinated with how our ancestors used plants for food as well as medicine. It wasn't until a few years ago that I started seeking out and purchasing books on edible and medicinal plants. I subscribed to different publications whose main focus was this subject. Any article in magazines on this subject immediately grabbed my attention. Then with the wonderful internet becoming available to anyone with a computer, my search for information took an exciting turn. One website for information linked to another site, and then to another and so on. But through time and my amateur research I discovered my interest started centering more and more on how Native Americans used plants for different purposes not only edible and medicinal but for dyes for ornamentation, for baskets and cooking vessels, for seasoning, etc. But I was so overwhelmed with information that didn't focus on this specific area until I came across the website of Dan Moerman's Native American Ethnobotany database; I found nirvana. I blundered around and through the website for months but with his kind help and patience with my questions I began to use his database in a more productive way. But then I discovered he had recently published a book called Native American Ethnobotany!! (...) When I received the book I thought I had died and gone to heaven! I can't speak for professionals but for amateurs like me he has saved me many hours of research in one way but has in turn stimulated my desire to continue researching this fascinating subject but now with a more educated direction. This is one of the items I would run back to save if my house ever burned down! It is worth every penny and is priceless in its information.
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62 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Paul Bergner on September 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Daniel Moerman has spent several decades building a database based on the scholarly literature on Native American Ethnobotany. The steadily growing information has has several print and online incarnations, and this book, the latest, is by far the most extensive. A summary review of the body of literature on the subject, cross referenced by plant, by tribe, and by therapeutic catagory. Indispensable for the student of native ethnobotany. The book may be a disappointment for the reader wanting great detail on dosages and specifics on usages -- much detail has been lost while adapting the information to database style. It remains the one book a student should own if he or she can afford only one.
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62 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Benkei on June 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is an amazing encyclopedia. Too many plant books are just scattered information which never satisfy me completely. This book is the most comprehensive book on Native American ethnobotany I have come across. There are various indexes for easy lookup of particular plants. E.g., you can look up the common name of a plant, get the proper Latin name for it and go to the proper section. There the plant is presented from various viewpoints, the plant as used for food, as a drug (medicinal), utilitarean (e.g basket weaving), which tribes used it, etc.. Various indexes in the back let you look up, for instance, all the plants the Blackfeet used, or all the plants used for food, which tribe used the inner bark of Cottonwood and for what purpose. Just an amazing compilation. Definitely worth it.
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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By John N. Kallas, Ph.D. on March 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Daniel Moerman has written an extensive 927 page compilation of original Native American ethnobotanical knowledge into one easy to read reference volume. This is a scholarly work representing 25 years of research into what North American wild plants Native Americans used for medicines, food, fiber, dyes, tools and ceremonials.
Native American Ethnobotany provides what I consider essential ethnobotanical baseline information. That is, any serious student of comparative Native American ethnobotany will want to own, or have access to this book through their school or library to begin serious study of the topic.
Because this book was based on an extensive database, there are comprehensive indexes for plant usage, species names (including synonyms), and common names. As a reference work, there are no illustrations or photographs.
I highly recommend this book as a reference text for any lay or professional ethnobotanical researcher.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Lance M. Foster VINE VOICE on October 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a big, solid hardcover volume that should be part of every library and university collection's plant and/or Native American reference sections. It is the absolute most thorough and comprehensive book on the subject, with cross-indexing and various ways to find the information you are looking for. I have an M.A. in Anthropology and am Native American myself (Ioway) and this book is an indispensable part of my personal library for both academic and personal use.

It is broken down into several sections, after the preface and acknowledgements.

"Plant Use by Native Americans" (pp. 11-28) gives overviews on the use of plants for drugs (medicines), foods, fibers and dyes, and other uses (hunting and fishing supplies (rods, lines, lures, traps, bows, arrows, spears, etc.), incense and fragrances, fuels, tools, and other uses. Interesting facts emerge such as more tribes used chokecherry as food (163 tribes) than corn (121 tribes), and the plant with the most medicinal uses was the common yarrow (355 uses)! The usages section covers the various sources of information and gives a list of the tribes and their locations.

"Organization of the Information" (pp. 29-32) discusses some of the issues involving the scientific and common plant names, both of which have varied over time and region, as well as ethnobotanical information.

The "Catalog of Plants" is the biggest part of the book (pp. 33-614), and it is arranged alphabetically by genus, with sublistings and specifics under the species. Then under each species, the use/s is/are given, as well as the tribe(s) which use it in those ways. For example, the chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) covers 4 pages in small print (pp. 444-448) of its many uses and the tribes across the U.S. who used it.
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