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Rodale's 21st-century Herbal

Michael J. Balick
Publication Date: 

An ethnobotanical tour de force, Balick's herbal (as it probably will be better known) brings together an enormous amount of information into nearly 500 well decorated and written pages. In three large color-coded sections, this work provides a balanced context for herbs in human history. In its first large section is "The World of Herbs." The second part, aptly entitled "Herbs to Know," introduces the reader to nearly 200 plants, some familiar (such as chili pepper, or Capsicum annuum), others exotic and even dangerous (such as the bark of an evergreen found in west Africa, Pausinystalia yohimbe). The third section, "Herbs for Life," produces tantalizing details on the use of herbs in the kitchen and elsewhere at home. This section includes a chapter on creating a herb garden with plans for different layouts and themes. A two-page chapter on resources could have been a little more detailed, but that is only a minor complaint. To call this work encyclopedic would be a disservice, since it will find its way into nearly daily use like any true herbal, rather than gather dust as a reference work. This book is highly recommended for anyone with an interest in herbs or a broader sense of the many connections between humans and plants. 

—Edward J. Valauskas, curator of Rare Books, Lenhardt Library, Chicago Botanic Garden