Bush Craft & Wilderness Survival Articles, Gear Reviews & Videos
A Forager's Bibliography - UPDATED 12/13
by George Hedgepeth
The following list is composed of books that I have found useful in my study of wild plants for food and medicine. Some of them may be harder to find than others, but all are worth owning. Some of these are fairly specific to an area or to a class of plant, but they have all been good reference material for me. This list is neither exclusive nor exhaustive; there are other very high quality books out there, and they may suit a specific area better than those listed here.
If I were to suggest to someone which books to start with, the first would be A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants by Lee Peterson. The Peterson's Guides are wonderful books, and offer some suggestions to use of these plants as well as how they may be identified. It is illustrated primarily with pen and ink drawings of the plants, which some people dislike. I find them clear and useful.
The next few books I would suggest would be Newcomb's Wildflower Guide, Field Guide to North American Edible Wild Plants by Elias and Dykeman, and Common Poisonous Plants and Mushrooms of North America by Turner and Szczawinski. These will allow further plants to be identified. The Newcomb's has a fantastic key system of identification, and the Elias and Dykeman book has fine color pictures as well as nutritional information. Of course, a book on poisonous plants is VERY necessary for reference as well.
After these, regional guides and books that focus on uses of plants after they have been identified are good purchases. Anthropological records like Densmore's work are great for this. Anything that allows a better understanding of the natural communities of plants will help one understand the big picture of our environment. With these books, one can get far into useful plant studies. Have fun!
Brill, Stephen, and Evelyn Dean. Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places. New York: Hearst Books, 1994
Densmore, Francis. How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine and Crafts. New York: Dover Books, 1974
Duke, James A. Handbook of Edible Weeds. Ann Arbor: CRC Press, 1992
Elias, Thomas S. and Peter A. Dykeman. Field Guide to North American Edible Wild Plants. New York: Outdoor Life Books, 1982
Elliot, Doug. Roots: An Underground Botany and Forager's Guide. Old Greenwich Connecticut, The Chatham Press, 1976.
Elpel, Thomas J. Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification. Pony, Montana: Hollowtop, 1996
Gibbons, Euell. Stalking The Wild Asparagus. New York: David McKay Co., 1962
Krumm, Bob. The Great Lakes Berry Book: The Great Lakes Berry Book. Helena, Montana: Falcon, 1996
Newcomb, Lawrence. Newcomb's Wildflower Guide. Boston: Little, Brown, And Co., 1977.
Nyerges, Christopher. Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants. Chicago, Chicago Review Press, 1999.
Patton, Darryl. Mountain Medicine: The Herbal Remedies of Tommie Bass. Gadsden, Alabama: Little River Press, 2004.
Peterson, Lee. A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin Co, 1978.
Thayer, Samuel. The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants. Ogema, Wisconsin. Forager's Harvest, 2006.
Thayer, Samuel. Nature's Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants. Birchwood, Wisconsin: Forager's Harvest, 2010.
Turner, Nancy J. and Adam F. Szczawinski. Common Poisonous Plants and Mushrooms of North America. Timber Press, 2003
Weatherbee, Ellen Elliott and James Bruce. Edible Wild Plants of the Great Lakes Region. University of Michigan, 1979
Woodward, Lucia. Poisonous Plants: A Color Field Guide. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1985
Zachos, Ellen. Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn't Know You Could Eat. North Adams, Massachusetts: Storey Publishing, 2013.
Do you have your own tip to share?
Send an email to georgehedgepeth(at)hotmail(dot)com
Briar Patch Outdoors
219 Holmes Street
Durand MI 48429
Learn about backwoods-living, pioneer skills, survival, subsistence hunting, historical trekking, living history, experimental archeology, period living skills, wilderness survival skills, Primitive Survival Skills, Stone Age Technology, Workshops and Classes, Anthropology, Archeology, Artifact Replication, stone age, stone-age skills, earth skills, native technology, ancient skills, wilderness survival training, outdoors, hide tanning, braintan, brain tanning, nature, awareness, tracking, medicinal plants, edible plants, prehistoric skills, cordage, fire by friction, kayaking, atlatl making and throwing, arrow, bow, flintknapping, dart, baskets, stone tools, aboriginal skills, traditional, workshops, classes, old ways, Country Living, Voluntary Simplicity, Simple Living, Homesteading, survival product reviews, back to basics, alternative medicine, wild foraging.