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In the Healing Fields: The Peterson Field Guide Series. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants; Eastern and Central North America.
Steven Foster & James A Duke. 1990. Houghton Mifflin. Color photos. 366 pps., Hardbound. ISBN #0-395-46722-5.

In this long-awaited addition to the famous and widely-distributed Peterson's Field Guide Series, herbalist and author Steven Foster firmly establishes his position as one of the premier writers on the subject of herbs in America today. He and co-author Jim Duke are no strangers to readers of this publication, being associate editor and contributing editor respectively. Jim Duke is well known for his numerous books on herbs and botany (over 10 to date) and is acknowledged as one of the leading authorities on medical botany in the U.S. Foster has written for a wide variety of herb, gardening, and health publications and has authored two books previously.

This field guide is intended as just that -- a field guide for hikers, botanists, herbalists, collectors and the general public. The book covers 500 different species, and contains over 200 vivid color photos of the plants taken by co-author Foster, plus a wealth of line drawings by Roger Tory Peterson, Jim Blackfeather Rose, and Lee Allen Peterson.

In what is a practical format for a field guide, the book is divided into sections that allow the reader to identify herbaceous plants according to flower color, then sections on shrubs, trees, woody vines, ferns, grasses, etc. As one would expect from these authors, the guide contains extensive indexing by plant and medicinal action. There is a glossary of medical topics and botanical terms, and a bibliography for further reading and research.

Each plant mentioned contains an abbreviated botanical description with range of habitat, native, folkloric uses, scientific vindication of historical use (when available), plus warnings, toxicities, cautions about the possibility of contact dermatitis, and allergies -- all accented by small symbols in the margins next to the text for emphasis.

This book has already been chosen as a featured item among several nature- and health-oriented book clubs. With extensive distribution of the Peterson series, the timeliness of the topic, and the reputation of the authors, this book promises to become one of the bestselling medicinal plant books of the 90s. Destined to become a classic, so get yours while first editions are available!

Article copyright American Botanical Council.