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Book Review: EDIBLE WILD PLANTS, Eastern/Central North America

 
pollinator
Posts: 1459
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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EDIBLE WILD PLANTS, Eastern/Central North America
The Peterson Field Guide Series

6 out of 10 acorns



This is a great reference book jam packed with information yet small enough to be carried with you in the field.

LOTS of photographs and illustrations. While I prefer photographs to illustrations, most of the illustrations are very detailed; shows if leaves are deeply serrated, mildly serrated or smooth, how leaves are veined and if the plant has small hairs or none. In addition each illustration page has a size reference that you can use to determine how large or small the leaf or flower should be.

Another great quick reference tool is the symbology used in the margins. At a glance you can tell if the plant is useful for cooking, making hot tea or cold drinks, used for seasoning or is poisonous (there are some poisonous look-a-like plants included in the book to warn against collecting the wrong plant).

The editors notes and preface; not a section I usually read but in Edible Wild Plants these two sections were actually interesting to me. The preface was inspirational and gave me a different perspective on collecting edible wild plants. Of course the last few paragraphs the author thanks everyone except my cousin Sarah so I just skimmed that part.

The contents section and indexes are the number one reason this book stays in my backpack. I can quickly look up a plant according to color of flower, shape of leaf, the food use that I am looking for, the location (swamp, field, woods) or even the season that it is most actively growing.

There are numerous preparation tips included to help in preparing the plants to bring out the best flavor, very helpful for those of use not used to the very distinct and sometimes overpowering flavors of wild foods.
Also the detail given to the location and growing conditions of the plants is helpful when attempting to establish a wild garden on your own property.

Given the option I still want to get on the internet and look at a few photographs before I eat a plant that I am unfamiliar with – but if that is not an option – Edible Wild Plants, Eastern/Central North America is my go-to book.
 
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Thanks Jeanine
Wrong part of the world for me, but I enjoyed reading your review anyway!
 
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9 of 10 Acorns. Why?
Although the book is imperfect, it is nonetheless an invaluable resource to anyone who cannot or will not simply listen to their tongue or the spirits when out looking for things to eat in the wild. The book will tell you a list of poisonous plants and will give you descriptions including appropriate uses as well as fairly accurate illustrations, as well as a list of poisonous plants and about 12 pages of color photos for some plants, although these are not as accurate as a good botanical manual for your location or wherever you may plan to be freeing yourself. The information usually corresponds to other ethnobotanical literature when cross-referenced with something like Daniel Moerman's "Native American Ethnobotany", and even includes some vegetable plants that one wouldn't have found just in the lists of Cherokee uses or something, although I could do some more thorough studying of both of these;D In keeping with "one is none, two is one" I find that the same is true with field guides and other botanical information. You want two or three field guides because they will vary in information and photographs, for instance carying this work with Elias and Dykeman's guide would be wise, if you were without a good botanical manual and some practice or a workshop or something, because essentially, I've found that no one drawing or description with photographs will push you to being absolutely sure, but two or three might, especially if the growth stages are all documented within.

 
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