[permaculture] Favorite Herb Books

yarrow at sfo.com yarrow at sfo.com
Mon Jun 11 18:30:38 EDT 2007

What is your great book? What, specifically, do you need to know? 
What part of the world are you in?

For medicinal uses, my favorite is Michael Moore's books, Medicinal 
Plants of the Pacific West, the revised edition of ...of the Mountain 
West, and his older books), particularly if you're on the U.S. west 
coast and interested in weedy and native plants. He also has a 
website that has detailed technical information on dosages, 
preparations, and indications -- a valuable resource for professional 
herbalists. (Google herbal moore.) Another favorite is Kathi 
Keville's Herbs for Health and Healing. She's also a pro but has more 
of a kitchen-garden style. I turn to her book for ideas on what to 
use or grow, then improvise based on what I have available. The 
widely available books by James Duke (or his database on the web) are 
also authoritative sources, but seem more geared to buying a product 
than to growing your own.

As a quick reference, I like Lesley Bremness, The Complete Book of 
Herbs, because it's fairly comprehensive but not too big and heavy, 
has a nice layout, is easy to use, and has proven reliable so far. 
This is where I turn to see how big something will get, or for ideas 
on what else to do with the harvest. Steven Foster's Herbal 
Renaissance is my favorite book on growing herbs. He's also a 
reliable source on uses of herbs, a good mix of practical information 
on growing and using and interesting notes on folk uses and the 
latest research.

The first herb books I had were John Lust's The Herb Book and Maude 
Grieve's A Modern Herbal (which are also good references). I was 
puzzled by the long lists of conditions that each herb could cure, 
and wondered if herbs could do anything at all. I studied botanical 
medicine with Moore, attended regional herb conferences for several 
years, and have shelves of books on herbs, and what nearly all the 
herbalists say is use what you have. Some herbalists say to start 
with, say, 10 herbs and learn all you can about them, and chances are 
you will be able to use them for more than 90 percent of your needs. 
I use my nose to guide me. One herbalist described getting to know an 
herb by taking a bath in it while drinking the same herb as tea -- 
spending a day or a week focusing on one herb at a time and paying 
attention to its effects and qualities.

For dyes, see Rita Buchanan's A Weaver's Garden.

For landscape uses, look for Rob Proctor and David Macke, Herbs in 
the Garden: The Art of Intermingling.

Some of the herb magazines regularly feature articles on every aspect 
of herbs. The Herb Companion has tons of recipes and some articles 
online; Herb Quarterly has only a few online articles.

At 9:12 AM -0400 6/11/07, Sharon Gordon wrote:
>I've been reading a great herb book which has some detailed info on 
>the particular herbs.  I'd like to learn about more different herbs 
>though and more specifics on using them.  Does anyone have 
>recommendations?  In addition to growing information,  I am 
>interested in cooking uses, medical uses, and other useful functions 
>such as making dyes or ways herbs can be used in the garden.
>The PFAF site is helpful in listing more ways plants can be used.

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