Not too long ago, I received an email from a student, asking if I could point her in the right direction of a resource that could help her with the Native American uses of plants. And while there are many, only one resource came to mind when she said Native American, and it is a book. Yes I know a book can’t and will not replace actual hands-on education with a person, but this book is much more comprehensive and varied than any one person could ever be. Be forewarned, this book is not for the faint at heart, this book is for the serious student. The book is “Native American Ethnobotany”
What this book isn’t
If you are looking for a good reference to identify plants, this book is NOT for you.— It has no pictures, illustrations, or descriptions of what the plant looks like.
If you are looking for a reference on plants you can lookup by common name, this book is NOT (with a but) for you, because the plants are listed by their botanical name. If you’re willing to do the extra work, however, you can use the index in the back of the book, look up the common name and get a cross-reference to the botanical name which you can then flip to the appropriate page and get the information you seek.
If you are looking for a low cost reference book, this book is NOT for you. This book has a suggested retail price of 79$.
What this book is
This book is an enormous tome, with over 900 pages of content. It will describe how a plant was used by various tribes, from food, to medicine, to functionality; say fire, glue, hand drill, etc.
Furthermore, you can look up a certain ailment, in the back of the book, and it will show you which tribe used which plant to treat that ailment.
There are over 2500 plants listed in this book, so it does a great job in covering the United States.
Sure not every single use is covered for all plants, but it does do an amazing job for what it is.
If you’re serious about taking your plant use knowledge to the next level, I highly recommend this book