I recently bought a copy of the book "Edible Wild Plants of Eastern North America" by Fernald and Kinsey, 1958, 452 pages, ISBN 58-7977. This is an excellent book on the subject and is loaded with useful tidbits of information on plant uses outside the eastern part of the country. I saw this book many years ago and forgot all about it until I saw it a few years back on EBay. The price was outrageous ($75) and I never pursued picking up a copy since I figured it fell into the category of "highly collectible books" which are usually way overpriced in my opinion. Well, I happened to find a copy for $9 so I grabbed it. The book has a nice selection of drawings and photos but is not a field manual as far as plant identification. It is a book that go's into detail about the use of the many plants listed.
If you need to ID plants then you need a good field manual. My choice is the Peterson Field Guides, namely, Edible Wild Plants (eastern U.S.), Eastern/Central U.S. Medicinal Plants, and Medicinal Plants and Herbs (western U.S.). Medicinal plants are also the ones considered edible in certain cases. Of course highly medicinal roots and plants would not be eaten in quantity, common sense being the rule here. The various flower and tree/shrub books they publish are a must have, also, since they further identify the various species of plants that are edible as well as the poisonous and non edible ones. In fact, I have one Peterson Guide named "Venomous Animals and Poisonous Plants" that covers the whole U.S.
Another book I recommend is "Wild Edible Plants" by Kirk, 1975, 320 pages, ISBN 0-87961-036-0. This covers wild edibles in the Western U.S. and has many good line drawings of the various plants. A nice feature of this book is in the back pages after the index. It lists the uses for different plants in groups such as non food use, dyes, cordage, etc and another section lists the plants by their food use such as berries, roots, flour and meal, greens, beverages, etc. The only drawback to this book is it tries to be a field guide and a plant use guide and the plant identification information is too short, but, the drawings are excellent. I think the author assumes the user is familiar with plant identification and owns a good filed manual for ID purposes. Still, its an excellent book and will be worthwhile owning a copy.
Here's a list of some other useful plant books:
"A Field Guide to Wilderness Living" Gearing ISBN 8127-0057-0
"Eat the Weeds" Harris Lib of Congress 73-83951
"Stalking the Wild Asparagus"Gibbons Lib of Congress 62-13703
"Edible and Useful Wild Plants of the U.S. and Canada" Saunders ISBN 0-486-23310-3
"Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast" Pojar and MacKinnon ISBN 1-55105-040-4
"Wildly Successful Plants" Crockett ISBN 0-02-062600-2
"Sturtevants Edible Plants of the World" Hedrick ISBN 0-486-20459-6
"Heinermans Encyclopedia of Nuts, Berries, and Seeds" Heinerman ISBN 0-13-310285-8
"The Encyclopedia of Edible Plants of North America" Couplan ISBN 0-87983-821-3
"Know Your Poisonous Plants" James ISBN 0-87961-013-1
"Poisonous Plants a Color Field Guide" Woodward ISBN 0-87052-014-8
"Wild Fruits" Fielder ISBN 0-8092-5614-2
There are several good plant books available as free downloads on the net. Archive.org has several such as Saunders, Medsger, and Sweet and others. Here are inks to a few: http://www.archive.org/details/commonedibleusef00swee
Michael Moore has some very good books for download at his site:
such as "Desert Plants and People" by Sam Hicks and a lot of good herb books as well as ethnobotany books. A search for any category of wild plant books will yield good results on the net. Use keywords such as "wild edible", "forage", "edible wild plants", etc.
There are a lot of other very good books by such authors as Nyerges and Thayer to name a few. Good hunting and be careful of what you pick and eat. Remember: you MUST be 100% positive of the plants ID before you ingest it or you may DIE!!!
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