Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Weeds of the Northeast: review

(I received this book review in an email from Jim Hadix, Thanks, Jim! This review came from Pratical Primitive, a website on primitive living skills. Check out that list of books on edible wild plants. Looks like an excellent list. I have many of those books and I'd recommend them too. HM)

Weeds of the Northeast
-- Richard Uva, Joseph Neal & Joseph DiTomaso

I Love This Book.

Though not remotely why the authors would think I do! I originally discovered this book quite by accident while searching on Amazon for a field guide that was more specific to plants in New Jersey. While reading the mediocre reviews for another book we had been considering, I came across a reviewer who recommended purchasing this book instead, and when I checked it out I was hooked. One of the most unique and helpful plant books I have ever come across, Messrs. Uva, Neal & DiTomaso would probably be mystified and horrified to find out why everyone we've shown it to loves their book so much!

Written by Specialists of Weed Science, this is actually an invaluable book for all foragers in the Northeast U.S., southern Canada, and beyond. While it's true purpose is to assist horticulturists, agronomists, landscape managers and pest specialists to identify and remove/destroy all those pesky weeds that are out to ruin their crop/garden/lawn, it is, in fact, a wild plant lover's dream. So why am I giving such glowing praise to a "let's kill those blasted weeds" book? Two words: "Seedlings" and "Seeds".

For almost every plant listed in this book there is not only a photo of the full grown plant and the flower, but a photo of the seedling stage, and of the seed itself! And let me tell you, these are GREAT photos. Carefully and beautifully taken, the photos make it easy to see and discern the minute details required for proper plant identification. Additionally, the identification key does NOT rely on any flower characteristics, as is common to almost every other field guide. The authors have developed a completely structural- and vegetative-based identification key that will allow you to identify any of the multitude of edible, medicinal and utilitarian plants and grasses (yes, grasses!) outlined in the book, at any stage of their life cycle.

Meaning that you no longer have to wait until a flower appears in order to discover what that mystery plant might be. Instead, you can take this book and go out right now and identify any of the 299 common "weeds" in this book. Among the "undesirables" listed are Wild Garlic, Wild Oats, Foxtail grass, several varieties of Millet and Amaranth, Milkweed, Yarrow, Chamomile, Burdock, Chicory, Jerusalem Artichoke, Chickweed, Lambs Quarters, Velvetleaf, Woodsorrel, Pokeweed, Plantain, Purslane, Mullein, Violets and many more.

We purchased this book back in December and have been impatiently waiting until March to share it with you in the hope that you will be as excited as we are by the opportunity to head out now, at the very beginning of the spring green-up, and begin marking those tiny seedlings to remind yourself where NOT to mow as the grass begins to grow.

Personally, I rather like the idea of taking a book designed to destroy plants and increase the monocultural agri-industry, and instead using it to find, nurture and fully enjoy those wonderful, healthy, helpful and delicious "Weeds".

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Man, I'd love a copy of this book. It is still early spring, and I'm having trouble identifying a lot of the little plants that don't have all the identification things I will look for later in the year. The bit about seeds and seedlings is a mighty draw for this book. Hmmmmmmm.

1 comment:

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