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Edible & Medicinal Plants of Canada    by Amanda Karst, Linda Kershaw & Patrick Owen order for
Edible & Medicinal Plants of Canada
by Amanda Karst
Order:  USA  Can
Lone Pine, 2009 (2009)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

As the authors point out in their introduction, 'all animals, including humans, depend on plants for survival ... plants have provided us with food, clothing, medicine and shelter.'

But because we now live a modern existence where necessities are mass-produced, most of us are no longer attuned to our natural environment, one that was so important in sustaining our ancestors. Consequently, the authors of this very comprehensive guide, all of them respected biologists, botanists, ethno botanists and nutritionists, hope that their book will help readers re-discover 'Canada's great natural cornucopia' of edible and medicinal plants.

The guide is well over 400 pages and features 329 plants that include trees, shrubs, vines, herbs, sedges and grasses and ferns as well as poisonous plants. The authors further break down each species into the following categories: food, medicine, and other uses. There's a comprehensive description of each plant as well as full colour photos and drawings so you can't go wrong with identification. Many of the plant species also comes with a warning, either a short sentence or a lengthy paragraph, that describes possible toxicity to both humans and animals, the chemical properties that could harm you, and even the unfortunate symptoms that can occur if you even come in contact with the plant.

The authors stress that the information presented in their field guide 'is limited, and that further study of species of interest should be made using other botanical literature.' Moreover, they emphasize that, 'no plant or plant extract should be consumed unless you are absolutely certain of its identity and toxicity and of your own personal potential for allergic reactions'.

If you are interested in getting back to nature or simply want to learn more about the wide range of plant species that are native to Canada, then Edible & Medicinal Plants of Canada should find a prominent space on your bookshelf.

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