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Modern Medicinals: Herbs, Spices and Medicinal Plants; Recent Advances in Botany, Horticulture, and Pharmacology.
Lyle E. Craker and James E. Simon (eds.) 1989, Oryx Press, 2214 N. Central at Encanto, Phoenix, AZ 85004-1483. 267 pp. hardbound. $69.50

This is the fourth in a series of well-researched papers on herbs, spices, and medicinal plants that the editors have been producing over the past five years. Previous editions have produced articles that have become standards in the botanical literature, and this volume is no exception.

Two of the papers were written/co-written by Steven Foster, Associate Editor of HerbalGram. "Phytogeographic and Botanical Considerations of Medicinal Plants in Eastern Asia and Eastern North America" by Foster is a development of a previously published work in which Foster deals with the issue of disjunct species. That is, there are numerous genera of medicinal plants in eastern North America that correspond to similar genera or species in eastern Asia. On a worldwide basis, some of these genera are found only in the two regions.

Foster also co-authors another piece with James A. Duke, the perennially prolific taxonomic botanist and medicinal plant expert at the United States Department of Agriculture, and Arthur O. Tucker (the lead author), the respected herb and spice taxonomist at Delaware State College. The Tucker, Duke, and Foster collaboration entitled "Botanical Nomenclature of Medicinal Plants" is a herculean effort to properly name 1,000 species in the space of 60 pages, plus an extensive bibliography of references. As the authors point out, the need for this work is timely. "A renewed interest in traditional medicines of Asia and the expansion of health food stores in Europe and North America, where a number of self-help medicinal plants are sold, has made identification of medicinal plants by use of scientific name imperative to assure uniformity and equivalence in the scientific community and marketplace."

Other rifles in this volume include "Excerpts of the Chinese Pharmacopoeia," by Xiao Pei-Gen of the Chinese Academy of Medicinal Sciences, Beijing; "The Potential of Pesticides from Plants," by John Lydon (USDA) and Stephen O. Duke (USDA); and "Borage: A Source of Gamma Linolenic Acid," by Jules Janick, James E. Simon,James Quinn and Nancy Beaubaire (from or formerly from Purdue University.)

Serious herbalists, botanists, and researchers will surely want to add this volume to their library, especially if they have already started with the first three volumes.

Article copyright American Botanical Council.