Wild Food Guide Review – Part Two

Happy Monday Morning, to my friends in the U.K. and other UTC time zones where it is currently Monday! It’s still Sunday evening here, but hey… what the heck, right? 😉

As promised, here is your Monday Morning review of the next book!

Today here at Wild Cookery!, we review:

Edible Wild Pants by Lee Allen Peterson (Peterson Field Guides)

This was my first ever Wild Plant guide, that I owned and purchased myself (other, older ones belonged to my father, and I simply inherited them) and it set the bar for the rest of the Field Guides that I’ve owned prior or since.

THE REVIEW:

This book is difficult to ‘review’ so to speak, as it is not exactly a book that most people would sit down and read cover to cover any more than they’d read a dictionary in a similar manner. (Though some folks do enjoy such things…)

Upon opening the book, I noticed a very handy “Pictorial Glossary of Flowers and Roots” on the front endpapers, with the “Pictorial Glossary of Leaves” on the back endpapers. Also on the back page flap is a ruler in both cm/mm and inches. I can’t even begin to describe how handy this is to the forager to have these proper terms defined, considering they are used in all the literature, and yet, very rarely defined in any comprehensive way whatsoever.

Most of this I was pretty familiar with, but I did learn the difference between a ‘spathe’ and a ‘spadix’ on such plants as jack-in-the-pulpit.

After a blessedly brief preface and contents notes, it goes into ‘How to use this book’ on page 1 and continues for 16 pages of basic, need to know information such as poisonous plants, conservation, a glossary of terms, and an explanation of symbols.

The very next page it starts right in with ‘Flowering Plants (Mainly Herbaceous). It’s also categorized by COLOR of the flowers. This is a super handy thing to have. Got a yellow flower? Go to the ‘Yellow’ section, then look it up by how many petals the flower has.

There are 16 different color photo plates in the center of the book, with between 4 and 6 plants per plate. These are all well done, though I’d liked to have seen more of them.

This book is a basic, nuts and bolts identification guide, and it does what it says it does very well.

PROS:

This book covers MANY different plants, and is very handy as an overall identification reference. It also gives many uses for the plants, telling you whether it’s to be used like an asparagus, a potato, or a tea, etc. The ‘legend’ symbols that are used are very intuitive and quite handy. It’s also small enough that it fits in the little zipper pouch in my backpack. I put it in a watertight gallon sized Ziploc, and it goes with me wherever I go. If I find something I’ve never seen before, I have it handy. I’ve used this book hundreds of times and taken it with me on dozens upon dozens of walks. When I go into the woods or the field, this is the ONE book I take with me.

CONS:

The pro is also the con. It covers so much that there is only a little bit on each item. I’d also have preferred a few more color photo plates. But the line drawings are absolutely wonderful.

Final Rating as a ‘Wild Food Guide’: 8.0 out of 10. The main flaw is it tries to cover a huge gamut, and thus, only has a blurb on each plant. Otherwise, it’s excellent. But then again, it is also MEANT to be a broad spectrum ID guide.

Summary:

Not a bad book to have at all. I’d heartily recommend it for your library on the merits of the line drawings alone as one of your ‘three’ good identification guides. Every forager should own this book. There is absolutely no excuse no to. Also, it’s very inexpensive. Probably one of the least expensive you’ll run across. List price is $19. I got mine for $12 online. Can’t beat that with a stick. It was half the price of the previous book I reviewed and a hundred times as useful identifying plants, overall. If you are on a tight budget (or even if you aren’t) this little book will get you started on your way to identifying plants.

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