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Plant Therapy from A to Z: The Dictionary of Healing Plants.
by Hans-Peter Dörfler & Gerhard Roselt. Illustrated by Ruth & Heinz Weber. Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 387 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016-8810. 1989. 328 pp. Hardcover. $24.95. ISBN 0-7137-1852-8.

We have seen a number of translations of European works of this sort in the past decade. The Dictionary of Healing Plants is a popular survey of the medicinal plants of Central Europe. Each plant is depicted by an attractive color painting with text on the opposite page. Plant descriptions, flowering time, habitat distribution, parts used, harvesting time and instructions, constituents, uses, noted side effects and history are covered under each plant. The sections on use and constituents (ingredients) provide good quick reference information on the phytotherapeutic applications in Europe, with notes on folk use or the biological activity of the active component. It may also note culinary or food flavoring uses. The botanical descriptions are the most detailed of the book's entries. Harvesting instructions are explicit, with details on methods and drying temperatures. The distribution data often contains interesting details. For example, under Toadflax, Linaria vulgaris, we lear n of the plant's ability to become a troublesome weed given the fact that one plant can produce over 30,000 seeds. The information on side effects or toxicity, generally absent from most herb books, is a useful feature. While by no means comprehensive in its detail or the number of plants covered, the vast majority of plants in the book are found in American herb gardens, or are naturalized weeds in the U.S. The color illustrations are botanically accurate and uniformly attractive. Those interested in quick reference details of major European medicinal plants will find a place on their shelves for this volume.

Article copyright American Botanical Council.