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Magic and Medicine of Plants

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Learn to identify nearly 300 North American flowers and plants believed to have some therapeutic value. The fact-packed text is filled with scientific information, historical background, and myths and legends about medicinal plants.

464 pages, Hardcover

First published November 1, 1981

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About the author

Reader's Digest Association

2,855 books425 followers
The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. is a global media and direct marketing company based in Chappaqua, New York, best known for its flagship publication founded in 1922, Reader's Digest. The company's headquarters are in New York City, where it moved from Pleasantville, New York.

The company was founded by DeWitt and Lila Wallace in 1922 with the first publication of Reader's Digest magazine, but has grown to include a diverse range of magazines, books, music, DVDs and online content.

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5 stars
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64 (33%)
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26 (13%)
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Displaying 1 - 17 of 17 reviews
Profile Image for Eyehavenofilter.
960 reviews97 followers
September 15, 2016
This is actually quite the compendium of the multiple uses and possible abuses of plants and herbs found word wide, along with their histories from Egyptians, Greeks, Romans apothecaries, physicians in the Middle Ages and later, by settlers who came to North America, by the Native Americans who who met them here, and even by our own grand parents. Many of these plants are still used today, nearly half of all medications currently prescribed are derived from members of the plant kingdom.
This helps to give us an understanding of the many underlying physical and chemical principals that account for the medicinal properties of plants. It also includes beautiful colored drawings, plates and photos of each species and descriptions so one doesn't get confused between poisonous and their nonpoisonous cousins.
There is a section on the anatomy of the plant, the roots, stems, leaves, flowers, flower clusters, fruits, and seeds, any and all of which could/ or could not be, potentially dangerous if touched, inhaled or ingested. ( good to know on an innocent walk through the woods or even down the lane, or if your salad looks a bit suspicious, yes?)
Maybe that cuppa tea your NOT so best friend is offering you, might just be something you'd take a pass on today? Not that I'm paranoid, but perhaps I've watched too many episodes of the last season of Dexter lately?
Profile Image for Eli Schuster.
72 reviews
January 4, 2009
Very nice. However, unfortunatly a grat deal of the plants mentioned in this book have either become extinct, illegal, or they grow exclusivly in Europe. I found it funny how at the beginning they went on and on about how this was not a book intended for the production of magick, potions, medication, ect. and that it was just a history of such. I'll now go on to tell you: "Magic & medicine of plants" is a potion/spell book. I like to think of the introduction as a lovely '70s cover-up. Basicly, from a general point of view, if anyone would have read this a few decades ago in a different part of the world, it would have been of the utmost use. Now it's a cross between sci-fi, fanasy, and historical documentation.

The main useful thing I got out of it was a better understanding of a book I previously read, "Wise Child", and what was put into the awful-smelling "mud" that they spread over her and gave her the opening to the second reality when she was flying through the roof on the broom to what I can guess as Stone Henge. Yeah, no one never flew on broom sticks, unfortunatly.
Profile Image for Claven.
6 reviews1 follower
June 28, 2012
This book has everything you want to know about plants, including what was believed historically, what it has been used for, and if test have been done to verify the medicinal claims (as well as, of course, the result of the tests.) It includes any warning, and describes the medical uses of plants that are considered to be dangerous, and if processing the plant in some way (such as boiling) reduces or eliminates the risk. It does not cover medicinal recipes, only simple treatments, and is missing an index to look up plant by malady. Thus, if you are suffering from a malady, you can not just look it up in the index to find the plant that will treat it. However, I have made this index specific to this book. If you want an e-copy, email me for it.
Profile Image for Tchipakkan.
389 reviews16 followers
April 20, 2015
This is one of my favorite herbal books, the pictures are clear, both close-up and in situ, the descriptions cover useage, medicinal, culinary, dyeing and others. I've bought several as gifts.
Profile Image for Cyndi Beane-Henry.
135 reviews1 follower
June 24, 2018
It is quite rare when I complete such a book inside of 24 hours. But I haven't been feeling well, and sleep has eluded me. And I truly found this enjoyable. So, yes, I did read it within 24-hours.

The book identifies wild and cultivated medicinal and herbal plants in an array from A-Z, which helps in some ways, and yet makes you feel thrown about in others. (I think I would have preferred an index with ailments that could be helped by plant at least. But c'est la vie.)

I did appreciate the notations at the bottom of each plants page that identified what the plant was considered useful for, and it's use today when applicable.

Because I'm interested in herbology, I found the herbs for cooking most interesting.

I did appreciate the effort for recipes at the back of the book, there just weren't really enough to make the effort worth reading through them. I was very interested in the gardening of the plants and herbs and found the layouts most informative.

Identification of each plant is by painting. AND photograph, which I truly appreciate. In most books we are informed only by paintings of the plants and one can never be sure with a painting what creative license has been taken! A photograph helps to compare the two and ensure that you have chosen or are looking at a correct specimen.

All in all I enjoyed the read. And I do highly recommend the book if you can locate a copy.
Profile Image for Brendalyn Blanco.
30 reviews1 follower
July 13, 2018
Very good reference book. I recommend this to anyone wanting to learn more about medicinal plants.
Profile Image for Jill.
126 reviews
April 9, 2022
The book I have is from 1986, so it's outdated as hell, images are sometimes drawings or images are unclear. I'd take this book with a grain of salt.
792 reviews4 followers
October 13, 2008
Combines mythology, folklore, history, botany, and horticulture.

Includes dozens of my favorite plants, including angelica, lemon balm, basil, bitter nightshade, borage, bugleweed, cardinal flower, chinese lantern, comfrey, coneflower, culver's root, daffodil, elderberry, feverfew, foxglove, hop, horehound, jimsonweed, and many others.

I read the library copy, but worth buying.
Profile Image for claire.
57 reviews1 follower
March 2, 2007
I love this reference on plants and herbs. I'm sure there are "better" ones out there, but this will give you the basics including pictures and an in-depth history of the uses of each plant. Helpful for anyone interested in the healing arts.
Profile Image for Camille.
110 reviews2 followers
March 11, 2010
This book was o.k., but not greeat. The pictures were so so and it just seemed out of date. The introduction, however, was interesting. It briefly discussed herbs and their place in history.
Profile Image for Pat.
92 reviews
June 29, 2012
I know! Reader's Digest, who would have thunk it? Did you know that "wild carrots" are often confused with poinson hemlock? Seriously, you could die.
Profile Image for Joel LeBlanc.
31 reviews9 followers
January 13, 2014
Great herbal medicine reference material... interesting knowledge on old, forgotten plants.
Profile Image for Nele Fraeyman.
133 reviews
May 18, 2015
Interessant. Een mens zou al direct aan de slag willen met allerlei middeltjes. Zoals je tanden poetsen met aardbeien tegen tandsteen, of 2 lepels olijfolie per dag om sneller te bruinen...
Displaying 1 - 17 of 17 reviews

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