paper, 272 pp., $27.95
This catalog examines more than 1,500 species of plants used by the Chumash of Southern California before the arrival of European explorers to this coastal region. The author gathered together information on the uses of individual plants, particularly as food and medicine, by these indigenous inhabitants. In part, details are culled from field observations, recorded over five decades by John P. Harrington. In a sense, this book is a celebration of the resourcefulness of a people who both used and cherished their environment. Timbrook, an anthropologist and ethnobiologist, brings clarity to Harrington’s notes and provides additional data from other sources through her careful interpretation of usage and practices after three decades of dedicated research in historical archives and among native people. Occasionally illustrated with botanical drawings and sketches of Chumash activities, the text provides the reader with special insight into the lives of the Chumash.
— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden