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The Natural History of Medicinal Plants

The Natural History of Medicinal Plants
Judith Sumner
Portland, Ore.: Timber Press
Publication Date: 

cloth, 235 p., $24.95

This landmark book on medicinal plants by a noted teacher of the subject brings together the latest research on vegetation that is good and not so good for man and beast. Dr. Judith Sumner must be an enthralling teacher, judging by her lucid and incisive prose reviewing the hows and whys of the development of plant compounds that have physiological benefits.

This global survey of what James Duke called "the green pharmacy" will captivate and challenge all of those interested in the relationship of plants to health. Dr. Sumner points out that there must be many plants, including thousands threatened by human-mediated extinction, which may yet prove beneficial when or if they are properly evaluated. Quackery in the name of herbalism receives some well-deserved counterpunches, but the book's overall emphasis is on what works throughout the world. The author makes an eloquent plea for the preservation of plants and human knowledge of their therapeutic uses. Nobody claiming an interest in medicinal plants can consider himself well informed if he has not read this book and taken its profound teachings to heart.

— John F. Swenson, Volunteer, Plant Information Office, Chicago Botanic Garden