As newsletter editor for the Friends of the Medicinal Herb Garden (Seattle), I have often had to look up background material for an event, verify the spelling of a species, or find illustrations for articles. This page lists some of my favorite sources, in print and online.
Who is Powell's?
Bailey, L . H ., et al . Hortus Third. New York: Macmillan, 1976.
Standard horticultural reference for the major species used in gardening and landscaping.
Bailey, L . H . Manual of Cultivated Plants. New York: Macmillan, 1949.
Botanical key to identifying the species "most commonly grown in the continental U.S. and Canada." Out of print now, but used copies are still worth scoring if you intend to get serious about plants. Features that make this technical reference helpful to non-botanists are the glossary and illustrations of technical terms.
Buchanan, Rita, ed. Taylor's Guide to Herbs. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1995.
Popular reference and ID guide to over 400 herbs, with 260 color photos.
Hobbs, Christopher. Vitex -- The Women's Herb. Santa Cruz, CA: Botanica Press, 1986.
Brief and accessible survey of the use of Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus) in treating gynecological disorders. Other booklets by the same author look at Echinacea, Ginkgo, Milk Thistle, Ginseng, and Valerian.
Lockhart, Gary. Natural Earth: The English Standard Reference on Herbal Substances -- Volume I: The Herbal Center of Healing. Anchorage, AK: Earthpulse Press, 1998.
A detailed survey of the literature of herbology, from the 17th century on. This work compiles and indexes (for the first time, in many cases) a wealth of minutiae and references in formerly obscure pharmacopoeias. The presentation is in an anecdotal style accessible to lay readers.
Murray, Michael, N.D. The Healing Power of Herbs. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1995.
Written by a naturopath who has gained respect from many medical practitioners as well as from alternative authorities. Summarizes academic and clinical research on more than 30 popular herbs, with lengthy bibliographies.
Ody, Penelope. The Complete Medicinal Herbal. London: Dorling Kindersley, 1993.
Pictorial treatment of 120 herbs and instructions for making your own preparations.
Phillips, Roger, and Nicky Foy. The Random House Book of Herbs. New York: Random House, 1990.
Color photographs of over 400 species, with information on their origins, natural history, and associated folklore.
Pojar, Jim, and Andy MacKinnon. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Redmond, WA: Lone Pine, 1994. (In Canada as Plants of Coastal British Columbia.)
A field guide to over 790 species native to the region. Plenty of color photographs to aid in identification. Notes on Native American uses of many of the plants are included.
Reader's Digest. Magic and Medicine of Plants. Pleasantville, NY: Reader's Digest, 1986.
An older book useful for its history of herbology, plain language botany info, instructions for herbal crafts and preparations, recipes, and full-color illustrations of almost 300 plants.
Weiss, Gaea and Shandor Weiss. Growing and Using Healing Herbs. Emmaus, PA: Rodale, 1985.
Gives an overview of the history of herb use and explanations of eastern and western concepts. Good coverage of growing and drying methods, and of making your own syrups and poultices. Graceful line drawings accompany descriptions of seventy species.
Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethno-botanical Databases. Agricultural Research Service.