Wild Food Adventures, Institute for the Study of Edible Wild Plants & Other Foragables
John Kallas, Ph.D., Director, Portland, Oregon


Wild Food Bookstore
Books with 1 - 4 Photographs
Of Each Plant


Before you can use wild plants for food, you must learn how to clearly and accurately identify them. If you do not identify plants correctly you'll, at the minimum endanger, and at worst, poison yourself! The books listed here contain photographs that when combined with information and photographs from other books, will help you be more successful 'identifying' a wide array of edible plants and their look-a-likes. Books on the Edibility page may offer anywhere from a meaningful paragraph to whole chapters covering individual plants. And the three books on our all-in-one page offer better photographs of specific plants than many of the books below. The benefit of the books below are in their bredth of information, not in their depth. Remember, none of these books is perfect, nor can they stand alone as your sole source of identifying information. A good 'Starting Library' aside from containing the books in our all-in-one category, might contain some of these books depending on region and the focus of the book. When studying any particular plant use the index of all relevant books in your library to get a more complete, realistic, and safe picture of 'edibility'.
   



Copyright 1982
Latest Reprint 1990
286 pages
Amazon: $12.56

Field Guide to North American Edible Wild Plants
by Thomas Elias and Peter Dykeman
An important book for any wild food library. This is a valuable resource that focuses on both the identification as well as the uses of edible wild plants. Elias and Dykeman cover 220 plants, of which 20 are poisonous. Each plant they cover is represented by a range map and one to four full color photographs to help you recognize the plants they included. The book organizes plants into seasons.
The introduction covers topics that include harvest and preparation, jam jelly and pie recipes, and Native American uses of plants. This book covers herbs, shrubs, trees, and vines. There is a nutrient table at the end of the book. The photographs are well done. In many instances they will help you identify plants down to the species level. Edibility coverage is brief but information rich. One of the things I really like is that they include "tips", on how to harvest process and cook, that they learned from experience. Recommended as a part of your wild food library!
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The last time we checked our associate Amazon.com...
The price was: $12.56
There were 20 pages of the book you could browse.
The average reviewer rating was 4.5 out of 5 stars.



Copyright 1977
Latest Reprint 1999
330 pages
Amazon: $13.30

A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants Eastern and Central North America
Peterson Field Guide Series No. 23
by Lee Allen Peterson
An important book for a wild food library. This is a high quality field guide focusing on the identification of wild edible plants of the eastern half of the country. Peterson uses a mixture of 78 photographs, but mostly, high quality black and white line drawings to help you recognize the plants they included. Unlike many 'flower' identification guides Peterson shows us leaves, stems, flowers and sometimes even fruits. And in a helpful way points out unique characteristics that might help us identify the plants.
Included here that you do not usually see in 'wildflower' guides are shrubs, trees, vines, non-showy flowering plants, and a few mushrooms. Understand that this book is valuable for what it is—an aid to identifying wild 'edibles'. More than most other books it shows edible and poisonous plant look-a-likes 'if their flowers are similar'. Use other books to help identify plants down to the species level.
And while abbreviated edibility information is included, it gives little or no detail for really successful wild food experiences. It does cover many plants that are rarely found in other edibility guides. Most of the focus is on the eastern half of North America, but at least 1/2 of the plants or their close relatives can be found in the west. Recommended for use in combination with other illustrated guides in an eastern wild food library!
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The last time we checked our associate Amazon.com...
The price was: $13.30
There were 30 pages of the book you could browse.
The average reviewer rating was 4.5 out of 5 stars.



Copyright 1997
256 pages
Amazon: $ 14.70

Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West
by Gregory L. Tilford
An important book for a wild food library. This is a high quality photographic guide focusing on the 'identification' of edible and medicinal wild plants of the west. Tilford, his own photographer, uses 86 photographs to help you recognize the plants he included. Unlike many 'flower' identification guides Tilford shows us leaves, stems, flowers and sometimes even fruits. And in a helpful way points out unique characteristics that might help us identify the plants.
Included here that you do not usually see in 'wildflower' guides are shrubs, trees, vines, non-showy flowering plants, and a few mushrooms. Tilford's photographs are excellent. He often shows you more than one photograph per plant to focus in on an important identifying characteristic. Understand that this book is valuable for what it is - an aid to identifying wild 'edibles'. Because it includes so many plants of differing types, it does not have the room to show look-a-like (related or unrelated) plants - only select edible and medicinal plants.
Abbreviated edibility information is included. He gives only one to four sentences per plant to describe its food uses - giving little or no detail for really successful wild food experiences. It does cover many plants that are rarely found in other edibility guides. Most of the focus is on the western half of North America, but at least 1/2 of the plants or their close relatives can be found elsewhere in the country. Recommended for use in combination with other field guides in a western wild food library!
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The last time we checked our associate Amazon.com...
The price was: $ 14.70
There were 21 pages of the book you could browse.
The average reviewer rating was 4 out of 5 stars.



Copyright 2001
235 pages
Amazon: $ 12.80

Wild Berries of the West
by Betty Derig and Margaret Fuller
An important book for a wild food library. This is a high quality photographic guide focusing on the 'identification' of wild plants that produce berries. Derig and Fuller are 'mostly' their own photographers who provide us with 103 berry photographs, 67 flower photographs, and a few vegetative photographs. There are 20 line drawings to supplement the photographs.
Like most wildflower guides, they focus in on the fruits and flowers, rather than on close-ups of other parts of the plants, but they do a fairly good job of showing at least the leaves and stems surrounding those fruits and flowers. Herbs, shrubs, trees, and vines that produce berries are all included. Derig and Fuller's photographs are excellent. They often show you both a plant's flowers and fruits.
Understand that this book is valuable for what it is - an aid to identifying wild berries and flowers. Abbreviated edibility information is included as well as historical information - mostly repeated from other authors' ethnobotanical studies included in a very useful bibliography. Their book does cover many plants that are rarely found in other identification guides. Most of the focus is on the western half of North America, but at least 1/2 of the plants or their close relatives can be found elsewhere in the country.
Near the end of the book they give 57 wild berry recipes in the following categories: Beverages; Breads (baked goods); Meats and Vegetables; Preserves; Salads and Salad Dressings; Sauces Syrups and Condiments; and Snacks. The explanations in these recipes provide more tips into preparation than you see in the text - improving the value of this book. Recommended for use in combination with other field guides in a western wild food library!
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The last time we checked our associate Amazon.com...
The price was: $ 12.80
There were 15 pages of the book you could browse.
The average reviewer rating was 5 out of 5 stars.



Copyright 1998
176 pages
Amazon: $ 56.26

Best-Tasting Wild Plants of Colorado and the Rockies
by Cattail Bob Seebeck
An essential book for those in the Southern and Central Rocky mountain areas and useful for the West, in general. This is a photo-based guide focusing on the identification of wild edible plants. Seebeck does more than any other guide by offering four thought-out photographs per plant. Yes, you heard me, four, not one, like most books. These photographs show different parts of the same plant. You are much more likely to be able to identify a plant if you can clearly see closeups of flowers, fruits, and leaves as well as portraits of whole plants and habitats.
This book covers 67 plants using about 300 photographs. Seebeck covers herbs, shrubs, and trees with edible parts, as well as eight of the most common poisonous plants of his area. Because the Rockies are mountains, Bob gives lots of attention to what is available on what plants at different elevations. Some food-related insights are given from Seebeck's experience, but edibility information is brief.
About 50% of the plants covered in this book can be found throughout the West where the habitats are appropriate - particularly in wooded elevations above 1,000 feet. About 30% of the plants covered can be found in various places across North America. Many of the plants covered are not found in other photographic guides. Highly recommended if you are in the Southern and Central Rockies, generally recommended for use in combination with other books as part of a western wild food library.
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The last time we checked (4/14/2012) our associate Amazon.com...
The price was: $ 56.26
Used, Evidently now out of print. A spiral bound edition was produced in 2011 but is of limited availability.
The average reviewer rating was 5 out of 5 stars



Copyright 1998
270 pages
Amazon: $ 13.96

Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Rockies
by Linda Kershaw
An important book for those in the Northern and Central Rocky mountain areas as well as other areas in the West. This is a photo-based guide focusing on the identification of wild edible plants. Kershaw's book, like other Lone Pine publications, covers lots of material. Brief descriptions of foods and medicines, often referring to uses by Native American Peoples, are given for each plant.
Like the other books in this section, there is no detailed processing information. This book covers 182 'kinds' of plants using about 350 photographs and 73 illustrations. A 'kind' for instance, is 'all docks', or 'all Oregon Grapes' discussed together. A 'Pictorial Guide', just after the Table of Contents, shows rows and columns of small duplicate pictures of all plants covered in the book for quick reference. Many people love this 'Pictorial Guide' concept in the field because it can help them quickly find the plant they are trying to identify.
The photographs and illustrations range from excellent to poor and are not as clearly thought-out as Seebeck's. Kershaw covers herbs, shrubs, trees, and mosses with edible parts as well as 29 poisonous plants. About 50% of the plants covered in this book can be found throughout the west where the habitats are appropriate - particularly in wooded elevations above 1,000 feet. About 20% of the plants covered can be found in various places across North America. Many of the plants covered are not found in other photographic guides. Highly recommended if you are in the Northern and Central Rockies, generally recommended for use in combination with other books as part of a western wild food library.
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The last time we checked our associate Amazon.com...
The price was: $ 13.96
There were 25 pages of the book you could browse
The average reviewer rating was 5 out of 5 stars



Copyright 1982
Latest Reprint 1990
201 pages
Amazon: $14.95

Alaska Wild Berry Guide and Cookbook
by Alaska Geographic Editors
This book is divided into two sections - plant identification and recipes. There is a lot packed into this book. It could have just as appropriately been included in our cookbook section - the recipe part is prominent and impressive. The plants cover an area much larger than the title suggests. This book is just as appropriate for all of the Pacific Northwest as well as much of Canada and the very Northeastern United States (from the upper half of Minnesota to Connecticut).
The plant identification section covers 48 of the most common berry producing plants - including some poisonous ones. Most plants covered are represented by two photographs and one or two line drawings. There is one photograph of the flowers and one of the fruits - typically but not always showing some of the adjacent leaves and stems. The photographs range in quality from excellent to poor, but all are still useful. Accurate line drawings supplement the photographs nicely - showing detail that really helps you identify these plants.
The extensive 277 recipe section is impressive. They are divided into the following sections: Breads (berries in baked products); Salads and Dressings; The Main Course (sauces and berries flavoring main dishes); Desserts; Beverages; Potpourri (candies, syrups, trail foods, Eskimo and Indian Dishes); and Preserves. There are also sections on canning, freezing, and drying berries. This book is highly recommended as both a field guide and a cookbook for anyone interested in wild berries of the North. The recipes would be fun to try for anyone who enjoys cooking with wild foods.
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The price was: $14.95
There were 0 pages of the book you could browse.
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