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Acclaimed Ethnobotany Textbook Republished

Plants, People, and Culture Available from American Botanical Council

(Austin, Texas August 18, 2005). The fascinating and informative text Plants, People, and Culture: The Science of Ethnobotany, co-authored by Michael J. Balick, PhD and Paul Alan Cox, PhD, is now back in print and available exclusively through the American Botanical Council.

Plants, People, and Culture was originally published in 1996 by Scientific American Books and its distribution discontinued in 2004. Through ABC’s efforts, the book is once again available as an educational tool and captivating read for students and professionals of scientific and cultural fields, as well as interested members of the general public.  “This book is the most cogent introduction to the rich and varied traditions found in the study of ethnobotany,” said ABC’s director and founder Mark Blumenthal. “The authors are two of the most highly respected scientists working in this field.”

In the book, Balick and Cox examine how traditional cultures of the Americas, Caribbean, and Southeast Asia used plants for medicinal and recreational purposes, explore how such practices influenced modern pharmacology, and uncover the dangers of destruction upon communities and environments. The two authors based their writings upon personal experiences living among these indigenous peoples.

Dr. Balick, who is a member of the Board of Trustees of ABC, is vice president and chair of botanical science research and training at the New York Botanical Garden, as well as director and philecology curator of the Garden’s Institute of Economic Botany. Dr. Cox, who serves on ABC’s Advisory Board, is executive director of the Institute of Ethnomedicine which is affiliated with the National Tropical Botanical Gardens in Hawaii. The authors met while they were doctoral students at Harvard University and were heavily influenced by the thinking and accomplishments of the renowned ethnobotanist, the late Richard Evans Schultes. Additionally, they have published a variety of books and articles on herbal and botanical topics, and are acclaimed specialists in the field of ethnobotany.

Experts of ethnobotany and related fields have provided much praise for this book:

“There is no question in my mind that readers in widespread fields will find Plants, People, and Culture a fascinating step towards heightening general interest in ethnobotany,” said Professor Schultes when the book was first published.

“This splendidly produced and most elegantly written book sets the plant kingdom firmly in its role as a major force in our history and civilization,” said John L. Harper of the University of Wales.

“Thorough in scope, elegant in execution, far-reaching in its implications for conservation, this is a book that students and teachers of ethnobotany, as well as others interested in the wondrous world of plants, have been waiting for,” said Wade Davis, author of One River, The Serpent and the Rainbow, and the newly-released The Lost Amazon: The Photographic Journey of Richard Evans Schultes.

“A magnificent book prepared by two of the most talented ethnobotanists of the new generation,” said Laurent Rivier of the University of Lausanne. “The authors should be congratulated for providing us with such a wide variety of fascinating topics in a single book.”

The book has been a significant educational resource for undergraduate and graduate level courses in ethnobotany and economic botany, and according to Steven Meyers, Professor of Biology, Valencia Community College, Orlando, Florida, “The book is masterfully written. Engaging, well illustrated--a sure thing to keep the ethnobotany student's interest. Drs. Balick and Cox really bring the subject into a nice package that stimulates the thirst for learning about how people use plants.”

Dana Lee Ling, Associate Professor and Math Science Division Chair at the College of Micronesia-Federated States of Micronesia, likewise related positive classroom experiences of the text. “Our students opt to not sell this book back to the bookstore at the end of the term,” Ling said. “This is a text our students have decided to keep in their libraries long after the course is over.”

The 228-page book features the original full-color cover and contains more than 150 enlightening black and white photos, illustrations, diagrams and chemical structures that complement the text. It retails for $30, plus shipping and handling fees. Class, bookstore, and bulk purchases of the book are available at discounted rates. To order, contact Kathleen Coyne at Customer Service, order single copies online at, or call toll free at 1-800-373-7105 ext. 118.

About the American Botanical Council

Established in 1988, the American Botanical Council (ABC) is the leading nonprofit, member-based international organization working to educate consumers, healthcare professionals, researchers, educators, industry, and the media on the safe and effective use of herbs and medicinal plant products. ABC is located on a 2.5 acre site in Austin, Texas where it publishes HerbalGram, a peer-reviewed quarterly journal. ABC is also the publisher of The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs, a reference book and continuing education module containing extensive monographs on the safety and efficacy of 29 popular herbs. More information is available at