cover image The Wild Wisdom of Weeds: Thirteen Essential Plants for Human Survival

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds: Thirteen Essential Plants for Human Survival

Katrina Blair. Chelsea Green, $29.95 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-1-60358-516-3

This passionate, quirkily informative book draws alternately on science and deep-ecology spirituality to weigh in with confident practicality on the “it’s-all-good” side of the invasive-plant controversy roiling the botanic community. Blair, who teaches about wild plants internationally, offers detailed advice on the gathering, preparation, and culinary, medicinal, and cosmetic uses of 13 pervasive plants that most gardeners and landscapers love to hate. Be it chickweed, plantain, or dock, Blair seduces readers with thorough descriptions of the harvest, preparation, and nutritive and medicinal value of each plant, together with recipes like knotweed banana crepes, lambsquarter shampoo, and thistle mallow dandelion cooler. A manifesto as well as a how-to guide, the book favors raw and sprouted concoctions and will appeal to vegans and live-food and foraging enthusiasts, as well as permaculturalists and foodies who relate to Blair’s enthusiastic optimism. But the author’s nonchalance about some serious issues, such as harvesting from potentially contaminated soils—eat just a little, judge by taste, use intuition, chlorophyll is protective—seems naïve if not alarming, and may undermine the credibility of this otherwise intriguing and useful book. (Nov.)