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The Quick Guide to Wild Edible Plants: Easy to Pick, Easy to Prepare [Hardcover]

Lytton John Musselman , Harold J. Wiggins

Price: 13.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

24 May 2013

A recent rise in the popularity of urban farming, farmers’ markets, and foraging from nature means more people are looking for information about plants. In The Quick Guide to Wild Edible Plants, botanists Lytton John Musselman and Harold J. Wiggins coach you on how to safely identify, gather, and prepare delicious dishes from readily available plants—and clearly indicate which ones to avoid.

More than 200 color illustrations, accompanied by detailed descriptions, will help you recognize edible plants such as nettles, daylilies, panic grass, and tearthumbs. For decades, Musselman and Wiggins have taught courses on how to prepare local plants, and their field-to-table recipes require only a few easily found ingredients. They offer instructions for making garlic powder out of field garlic and turning acorns into flour for Rappahannock Acorn Cakes. To toast your new skill, they even include recipes for cordials.

The Quick Guide to Wild Edible Plants is a great gift for the beginning naturalist or the perfect addition to every serious forager’s library.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press (24 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1421408716
  • ISBN-13: 978-1421408712
  • Product Dimensions: 22.2 x 14.8 x 1.6 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,974,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


The book is witty and full of commonsense. It is a jolly good read for anyone.

(Jane Manaster Portland Book Review)

The fact that as many as 50 books explain how to find, collect, and prepare wild plants for a meal speaks to the popularity of the endeavor. Whether this is your passion or merely something you might be interested in learning about, check out The Quick Guide to Wild Edible Plants... Should I ever get a craving for stinging nettle omelet or black locust fritters, I will know exactly which wild edible plant book to look in.

(Whit Gibbons The Aiken Standard)

Drawing from a lifetime of foraging experience, Musselman and Wiggins expand the reader's food gathering repertoire with simple recipes and a fascinating assortment of plants largely overlooked by the wild food literature.

(Samuel Thayer, author of The Forager's Harvest)

Dr. Musselman is a passionate botanist. Walking among plant life makes him very happy, which means he is happy most of the time, except when riding in a car stuck in a long tunnel. He will stop people on the street to tell them some great news from the plant world.

(Garrison Keillor)

Book Description

Personally connect with (and eat) the diverse flora that surround us in the eastern United States.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars  29 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very limited in use; an odd book 1 Jun 2013
By I Do The Speed Limit - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This guidebook is for the Eastern section of the United States. It would have been very helpful if that fact had been made part of the book's title--at least they should have mentioned it on the cover somewhere. I did notice that fact far down in the description section of this product page. So beware: You may not find many plants from your particular area listed in this book. There are a few plants that you will find in other parts of the country, but the book doesn't cover that many plants to begin with.

Recipes in this guide-book-sized book number about 50. The recipes are pretty primitive. Some are for flavoring vodka, some make flours, some are for frying leaves with a black walnut coating. Calling them "delicious" is a stretch of the imagination. (Calling them "recipes" is a stretch of the imagination...) Besides that, most of the plants need to be harvested at a particular time of the year; you need to know where the plants are ahead of time, and in many cases the plants are located way out in the wild. Harvesting the specific part of the plant necessary for the so-called recipes is often a messy, muddy, snake and/or insect-laden affair. This type of foraging is not for the casual nature observer taking a walk through the woods.

Some pictures are adequate, some are not clear enough and close up enough to help with identification. I found that odd... Some plants are mentioned, yet there are no pictures of them, and that is odd too.

The layout of the book is definitely not conducive to being used as a quick guidebook out in the field. This is a book to sit down and read, make notes, go out and gather more information and maps, and then make plans to take a trip.

The index is not adequate: I went looking for more information on a plant that was mentioned in the first few pages (purslane; because I've seen people foraging for it in the spring in highway medians, (not a good idea)), and it was not in the index at all.

Granted, there will be some opportunities for the very enthusiastic and interested person. But to make very good use of this book, I think you have to be rather dedicated. Granted, there is some very interesting information provided in the book, but again, that information is of fairly isolated value.

This is not for foraging in a urban or populated area. This book is for the very ambitious: You are going to have to get out there in the wild, learn the area, learn the plants, make plans to return to the plants at a specific time of year, and you are going to need more detailed information than this book provides. In that way, it is a very "odd" book in its coverage of material.

If you are really interested and ambitious, and if you live in the Eastern part of the U.S., you might be able to rate this book 5-stars. But you'll probably need more information than what is provided in this book in order to reach your goal.

If you are from Texas (for example), I'd rate this book one-star. (Unless you want to harvest nut sedge tubers out in wild...)

If you don't have any plant identifier books and want to know what poison ivy looks like, you might rate this book three stars. Although you might save yourself some money and look at the great pictures available on the internet...

Personally, I'd like to knock my rating down to two stars, simply because someone dared to call the voice of this book "witty". But I won't. Someone will find great value in this book. But, I find it a bit disgusting that the editors of this book do not highlight the coverage area. That, to me, is inexcusable in a guide book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Quick Guide as well as a Cookbook! 26 May 2013
By Ellybean - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Quick Guide to Wild Edible Plants by Lytton John Musselman & Harold J. Wiggins is a handy resource for those interested in foraging, whether with a life long love or for those just starting out and want to get their feet wet. Be sure to take notice to the phrase quick guide in the title. This book is detailed just enough not to overwhelm a reader, which is great in my opinion for a book you could easily take along with you on your foraging expeditions. If you are looking for a more deeply detailed forging book, you'll need to look elsewhere, hence quick guide.

I'm loving that the book is extremely well made, quite sturdy with an attractive linen hardcover. There are 144 pages from start to finish and 13 different sections. The sections include Introduction, Deadly Harvest: Plants you Should Avoid, Natures Storehouse of Edible Plants, Condiments, Aperitifs, Greens, Starches, Grains and Plants Used Like Grains, Flowers, Sweets, Cordials, Mushrooms, and a handy index of all the mentioned recipes that can be found throughout the book.

The book is very helpful in knowing when to pick certain things, how to prepare them for eating, and where they can be found. The descriptions are helpful and so are the more than 200 full-color photos. I found myself smiling when I read through some of the sections when they talk about what plant they would include for recipes and what they wouldn't. There was something mentioned about Middle Earth and horrible tasting combination that would gag a maggot. I for one appreciate the honesty and realness in the book, as well being amused.

I'm happy to have this book and plan and putting it to good use in forging as well as in educating my children on edible plants and the ones to stay away from. The recipes look pretty delicious as well! Imagine the surprise from guest you could get when presenting them with a Cattail Corn-dog, Indian Strawberry Jam, or some Curly Dock Cookies!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Foraging Lite 14 July 2013
By Jacques Talbot - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
By the authors' own admission, this is a quirky little book, and one that enters a field already crowded with more than 50 other titles available. It's important to understand that

1) this book deals only with plants growing in the mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states--and only a selection of those, and

2) it is geared toward beginners and / or those only casually interested in knowledge of wild-growing food plants.

If these two qualifications / restrictions accord with your situation, then you will likely find this an excellent choice; if you live in a different area of the country or world; or if you are looking for a broader and deeper treatment of the plants available, how to preserve, prepare, and use them, or their natural history, then you will be better served by other books (Samuel Thayer's immediately spring to mind, and the Peterson Field Guide).

With this in mind, there is plenty to like about this quirky little tome:

It is Physically well-produced--hardcover, durably bound, on thick glossy paper

It is of a size and weight that lends itself to portability

The photographs and captions are quite good / useful

The quality of information is good (if not extensive).

The recipes have been chosen because the authors have tried them and found them simple, practical (or at least not too impractical), and palatable (or at least not too repellant).

Hopefully this book is just the thing for getting people introduced to wild-growing plant foods--and the importance of preserving "undeveloped" open space, clean air, and clean water.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Found a new gluten-free plant near me! 15 Jun 2013
By C. Keeney - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I live on 8 acres so figured there must be some "weeds" that I could forage near my house. I live in Southern Indiana, the Midwest, and most, if not all of the plants I can find here, but the book says common plants of the Mid Atlantic and Northeast so that's really not correct, as they are found here as well.

The books offers a variety of plants, some are for lake and river areas and some are found alongside a road. Some of the pictures are great but I think some of the pictures could've been taken a bit closer. There's a great picture of poison oak and poison hemlock but a not so great picture of poison sumac, for example. I am allergic to poison ivy, etc., so that's important to me. He does include information about avoiding these plants, which is great, since it's a foraging book not a guide to poison plants.

Overall the majority of pictures are great for identification purposes, and closeup plus a distant photo is included for each plant with a text description...a couple you will have to do a google search to get a more detailed picture. The book explains in detail about the plant and how to harvest it, and then gives a recipe using the plant. The book is not a compendium but offers something different to add to your collection of foraging books.

The Curly Dock plant mentioned in the book, is all over my pasture. It's a gluten free plant similar to buckwheat, so I'm excited about trying that. I harvested some already but need more before cooking with it. I think this would be a good book to take with you on a camping trip, esp near a lake or river. I have a pond in my front acreage so I can try the Cattail Corn dogs, and I also saw some Orange Day Lillies along the road. Now that I know what things to look for, I can keep my eyes open...I was really surprised to find the Curly Dock so close to my house. I want to find a Pawpaw tree but have never seen one. The book says they are ripe from September thru October so will have to wait for that.

I recommend the book. It's been well researched and it's small enough to carry around on a hiking trip at 8.75 x 5.75.
5.0 out of 5 stars Wild Edible Plants 8 Jan 2014
By Larry Edwards - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is so interesting and informative! Every outdoor lover should read this. The information contained could easily save a life.
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