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A Field Guide to Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs (Peterson Field Guides) Paperback – April 18, 2002
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About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Low-growing, spreading perennial, 3–8 in., often forming large colonies. Oval leaves in whorls of 6 beneath showy “flowers” (bracts); veins arch from leaf base toward tip; margins entire. Small, greenish white flowers tightly clustered above 4 large, white, petallike bracts; May–July. Fruit scarlet, single-seeded. Where found: Moist, cool forests, meadows, bogs. Alaska to Idaho, Mont. south to N.M., nw. Calif. eastern N. America. Uses: American Indians toasted the leaves, then sprinkled the powder on sores. Berries were a snack source, dried and stored for winter; also chewed to treat insanity. Leaf tea drunk as a strong laxative and to treat paralysis. The Paiutes mashed and strained the roots and used the liquid as a wash for sore eyes. Tea of the whole plant was taken for coughs, fevers, and tuberculosis. Tea from roots, leaves, and berries was drunk for fits. A root tea was given to babies for colic. Bark tea drunk for body pains.
ICE-PLANT, SEA FIG Leaves Mesembryanthemum crystallinum L. Carpet Weed Family
Multibranched, bumpy-stemmed perennial, spreading along ground; to 24 in. high. Leaves succulent, alternate, flat, ovate to spoon-shaped; margins wavy. Flowers stalkless in leaf axils, showy, white to red- tinged, with many stamens and 5 linear petals; Mar.–Oct. Bumpy fruit opening when moist. Where found: Saline soils near coast, bluffs, disturbed sites, coastal sage scrub. Along the cen. and s. coast of Calif. to Ariz.; Baja Calif., Mexico; S. America, Mediterranean. Alien (South Africa). Uses: Historically, physicians used leaf juice to soothe inflammation of the mucous membranes of the respiratory or urinary system; to treat painful or difficult urination and involuntary urination. In Europe the fresh juice has been used to treat water retention and painful urination and to soothe lung inflammation. Related species: M. edule L. (Carpobrotus edulis [L.] N. E. Br.), or Hottentot Fig, a common escape in California, is used externally in S. Africa for burns and thrush and internally for dysentery. Warning: High in oxalates, potentially toxic in high doses, especially in flower and fruit.
CANADA VIOLET Whole plant Viola canadensis L. Violet Family Perennial with short, thick rhizome and slender stolons; to 10 in. Leaves heart-shaped or oval on long stalks; tips pointed; margins toothed. Flowers solitary from leaf axils. Petals white above, purple beneath, yellow-centered; bottom petal dark-lined, spurred; side petals hairy at base; Apr.–July. Pod splitting into 3 valves. Where found: Moist to dry woods. Ore. to ne. Wash., Idaho, Utah, Ariz. Rockies from Mont. to N.M.; eastern N. America. Uses: Native Americans used a root tea for pains in the bladder region. Externally, a poultice was used to treat skin abrasions and boils. In European traditions violet species were listed as soothing and softening for coughs and colds, urinary tract ailments, and skin conditions. Warning: Roots of most if not all violet species may induce vomiting.
Text copyright © 2002 by Steven Foster and Christopher Hobbs. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.
Top Customer Reviews
A Field Guide to Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs would be fantastic and would help me ID plants in the wild with confidence. I was not pleased at all.
The photographs in this book are thumbnail size and often show only the flowers of the plants in question. The book itself is of a tiny size and affords little space to have "real" close-up photographs of leaves and overall look of the plant in-situ.
I would contrast this "Reader's Digest" version of a book made to identify plants in the wild with Roger Phillips' Mushrooms And Other American Fungi Of North America. This book is a full 11 3/4" X 8 3/4" and has photographs that fill a whole page, in some cases. I think it is fair to say that every photograph in Roger's book is larger than ANY picture in A Field Guide to Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs, whose photographs are attributed Stephen Foster. A quick view of Foster's web site shows similar "thumbnail" sized photographs. I am greatly disappointed!
The text contained within A Field Guide to Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs pales in comparison with what can be found on line.
I am hoping RHS Encyclopedia of Herbs and Their Uses gives a better view and history of the plants.
In closing, I would say this book should be the last on your list - not the first!
Overall rating: 3 stars
Number of plants: 4 stars
Treatment lists: 4 stars
Treatment details: 3 stars
Picture types: small color photographs
Plant identification: 2 stars
Who will find it useful: truly dedicated novices, experienced foragers & herbalists, backpackers, hunters, preparedness-minded & self-sufficient folk, all of whom live west of the Rocky Mountains or in non-desert areas of the southwest.
This book suffers the same fate as other Peterson edible/medicinal field guides, the pictures are just too small to be much use to novice foragers. Many people attending my wild edible/medicinal plant classes come with a copy of this book and none of them have been successful in identifying more than 5-6 plants from these guides. A dedicated beginner who uses the book as recommended by the publisher (directions at front of book) will have a higher success rate. Most people don't follow these directions which leads to their frustration with the book. True, this is more the fault of people than of the guide, but it's something you need to keep in mind when deciding if this would be a good field guide for you.
If you can already identify the wild plants in your area this book will be a great and useful addition to your library. It mainly limits itself to tea treatments (drank or applied to skin) but does a good job of covering all these uses as well as stating which have scientific backing and which are folklore. Sidenote: I'm not saying anything bad against folklore uses, just that in many cases there hasn't been enough scientific research to confirm these uses.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Put together well. A little hard identifying the plants from most picturesPublished 6 months ago by John Bargh
Small compact design makes the book easy to carry. The book is written clearly and concisely, and the photos are clear and helpful. Read morePublished 11 months ago by C. Jones