Essential Herbal Wisdom: A Complete Exploration of 50 Remarkable Herbs

Nancy Arrowsmith, Author . Llewellyn $29.95 (561p) ISBN 978-0-7387-1488-2

Arrowsmith’s modern herbarium, first published in a German edition, draws on decades of personal experience. Working deeply rather than broadly, she focuses on 50 potent, multitasking herbs commonly found in Europe and North America, divided into sacred, solar and lunar categories. Some cultures, Arrowsmith (A Field Guide to the Little People ) says, identified herbs as the “little people” of the plant world, and she encourages a similar respect for their medicinal, cosmetic, culinary, household and ritual virtues. She aims, she says, for a unified and balanced understanding against the modern tendency to isolate particular plant compounds for pharmaceutical purposes. She relates hundreds of ways to use herbs in daily life, with tips on planting, gathering, drying and storing; preparing tinctures, teas, salves, beauty treatments and special cures; treating humans and animals; cooking and baking; and creating nurturing environments. She includes recipes (sorrel fritters, marigold cordials, etc.); poems; quotes from the likes of Shakespeare, Chaucer and Milton; legends; and describes the magical powers attributed to various herbs. While color photos, rather than the basic line drawings that are here, might better serve aspiring herbalists, this trove of herbal wisdom is a splendid homage to herbariums of the past. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 12/15/2008
Release date: 02/01/2009
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