Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants by “Wildman” Steve Brill with Evelyn Dean.
When I was growing up, Granny would say, “I guess tomorrow we’ll go gather blackberries.” I was always excited about going gathering. We didn’t have a foraging book to go by, she had learned from her mother what to gather.
We called it gathering but today it’s known as foraging. We gathered blackberries, blueberries, huckleberries, and some roots. I can’t remember what the roots were. Like many things from my childhood, I wish I had paid more attention.
In our uncertain times, I’ve begun learning about foraging edible plants and medicinal plants. Since we moved to the Panhandle of Idaho, there are all kinds of forgeable plants which I’ve never seen before. I needed a foraging book to help me with wild plant identification.
I chose Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants by “Wildman” Steve Brill with Evelyn Dean. I am thankful I did. Now, this book isn’t a light read. It’s not the kind of book you read through and put it away or sell. It’s the kind of book you carry with you out into nature to refer to as you forage.
Find and prepare more than 500 different plants for nutrition and better health. Get your copy of Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in the Wild (and Not So Wild) today!
I carry it in my pack as we hike. One day, I’ll have learned what I need to know and won’t have to carry it with me all the time. But I don’t see that happening for years to come!
This foraging book starts out in an excellent way with a chapter called “Introduction to Foraging for Wild Plants.” I was thrilled with this because even though I knew some things, I had decided to approach the book as a new start and to learn what they had to teach me. Being in a totally different part of the country has opened my eyes to so much I didn’t know and I don’t want to make a costly mistake with what we put into our bodies.
There is an excellent table of contents and index to help you find a specific plant or subject, but I went from front to back since I know so little about specific plants in my area. Some of my favorite tips from the introduction chapter were:
- Know if the area you’re picking in is sprayed. I wouldn’t have thought of that, but railroads and power lines are usually sprayed around to keep down growth. You don’t want those toxins.
- Don’t collect rare or legally protected plants – now this may seem like a duh thought to you, but the author went on to say besides helping them to recover, if they’re not thriving, they won’t be the healthiest plants. Now, I wouldn’t have thought of that.
- Only pull the part of the plant you’re going to be using. If you’re not going to use the root then there’s no need to pull it up. Just take the leaves, fruit or flower.
- Use your common sense and don’t trample the plants you’re after. You’ll be destroying future crops. Also, don’t over harvest an area or specific plant. Be certain to leave enough adult plants to repropagate the area.
- Don’t collect along heavy traffic areas. Even though most fuel is unleaded today, exhaust fumes may contain lead and there may still be lead in the ground from years past. Toxins are collected by the plants especially their roots.
- Faster growing plants tend to pick up less heavy metals than slower growing ones. I had no idea!
- Some plants have parts which are edible and some parts which are poisonous. This is just another reason I’m so happy to have this foraging book.
All the parts of the plant are described in detail offering instruction on the leaves, the flowers, the fruit, and the roots of plants. The natural habitat of plants section gives you an idea of where to look for edible and medicinal plants.
The book is not only divided into growing seasons (mid-late spring, summer, autumn, late autumn through early spring and early spring) but each season is also divided into habitats by climates. I don’t need to know what plants grow on the seashore or desert because they aren’t in my climate.
The amazing drawings throughout the book are not only lovely but practical and detailed as well. You can feel confident in identifying plants by using the drawings. I even enjoyed looking at the drawings of plants that are not in my climate.
Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants doesn’t stop with helping you identify the plants. Chapter 7 is all about “Cooking With Edible Wild Plants.” From cleaning them to preserving them, you’ll find all you need to know about eating them.
If you didn’t think this was enough, you’ll be thrilled to know Chapter 8 is recipes! Yes, what delicious delicacies they include! I can’t wait to try so many of them!
If I had one thing I wish the book had covered more of, it would be the medicinal side of using the plants. There was some discussion about the different ways they could be used in salves or tinctures, but no specific instructions like which to use for home cough remedies and other information along this line.
As I said in the beginning, this book is not one to sit on the shelf. You’ll be referring to it over and over again. From gathering to recipes, Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants is a jewel in the foraging book world! You’ll be glad you have it time and time again.
Safe and Happy Journey,