“Medicinal Wild Plants of the Prairie: An Ethnobotanical Guide” and “Edible Wild Plants of the Prairie: An Ethnobotanical Guide” both authored by Kelly Kindscher
This review, unlike my others, actually concerns two books instead of one. However, since they were authored by the same person and much of my review is the same for both I’ve chosen to include them together in a singular review here on my blog.
The first book is Medicinal Wild Plants of the Prairie. The second, Edible Wild Plants of the Prairie. Despite focusing on two different topics, though, both are your pretty typical historical Native Herbals from start to finish.
Across both books, every plant entry provides a very similar base of information. This includes 1. Simplistic black and white illustrations of the plants and their components, 2. A map showing you their native region across the Americas, 3. Both their Common and Scientific Names- as well as the names used by the Native Tribes who used them, and 4. A description of their usual habitats to accompany the map provided.
It’s at this point that they diverge; Edible Wild Plants goes on to give you further information about the cultivation of each plant, their common uses (and the parts that are used) by the Native American tribes that utilized them as food sources, as well as how these various would prepare or eat them. By contrast, Medicinal Wild Plants gives you their common uses (and the parts that are used)- both in Native Medical traditions, Anglo-Saxon Folk Medicine, and even Modern Herbal Medicine.
The only thing I really find disappointing about these books is the fact that they favor Black and White illustration over color photography; while black and white illustration can be valuable for isolation core features of a plant, it doesn’t provide the range of true to life detail that color photography does- and in my experience, books which use color photography do increase the rate of accurate identification, with or without being combined with black and white illustration to augment it. This is incredibly important to me as the book is focused on the identification of herbs to be used for Medicinal purposes, where accurate identification is integral to safety. That being said, they were published in 1992, so I can’t gripe about it too much as the inclusion of color Photography in books like these wasn’t as common back then as it is today