Top critical review
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Often contains incomplete or misleading information
on January 31, 2017
Overview: though simply listed as "the West" this book is specifically focused on the northern West, Rocky mountains and Mid West, from Alaska down to Northern California and east to the Great Lakes. This is not the author's fault, he makes that clear on the back of the book, but Amazon doesn't show an image of the back cover. The book is organized alphabetically by common name. The pictures are a good size, and there are a fair number of them. The printing, paper and binding are all good quality, and should last a long time.
I was very disappointed in this book. I'm a fairly experienced forager from the northeast, but I recently moved across country and wanted to learn about some plants new to me. I started with the plants that I know, so I could get a feel for how accurate the writer's content was going to be. I found that his facts and level of research seem very mixed. Some entries are excellent, and some are very poor. This leads me to believe that he may not be personally foraging many of these plants, rather cutting and pasting the information from other sources.
One thing that deeply concerns me is that there are SOME sections for "look-a-like" plants, on SOME entries. This may make a beginner or novice think that there are no look a likes where he doesn't mention them, except that there are. In other sections, he references look-a-likes, but not enough of them. For example, for chickweed, he mentions Cerastium as a look a like, which is edible. But he neglects to mention scarlet pimpernel, which is also a look-a-like and poisonous. Yet again, some of his other entries are very good and comprehensive.
Anther example is burdock, which has an edible root eaten BEFORE the seeds form. Tilford mentions that it looks kind of like poisonous cocklebur, but says you can tell them apart by the shape of the seeds. This is dangerous for ID as you will be gathering the root before you can check the seed shape for ID. He SHOULD have talked about the leaf shape, which is very different and you can use the leaves to tell the plants apart before they go to seed.
Also annoying, his "medicinal" uses for plants are often presented with out references, or context. It seems almost as though he has scraped the web for every mentioned use of any plant and thrown it in there. This results on most every plant being good for most every thing.
He also leaves out any plant that may be controversial, even if it's an important wild edible. Wild carrot, aka queen anne's lace, is an important wild edible with medicinal properties (if used correctly), yet it's completely neglected. Probably because it can be confused with hemlock, yet other foraging guides still describe it, and take the time to show you how to confirm your ID. Tilford just omits it.
On the plus side, there are a lot of plants covered here. There are a fair number of pictures, and they are of fair size. This is a good book for piquing your interest in wild plants, and providing an introduction. But for positive identification before you use anything in this book, I suggest you confirm everything with other, more reliable, sources.
I also like his poisonous and advanced medicine section. With very few discrepancies, I think that this points out many of the most dangerous plants.