Herbal References for Beginners

My cat pounces on my lap gently kneading her paws and purring. I am engrossed in a book and absently detach her from my lap. She pounces again, her warm furry body balancing precariously on my lap. She lifts her paw and tries to knock the book out of my hand. “Luna de buho” I groan (using her full name whilst she is in trouble) and gently place her off my lap. She pounces again, I sigh and give into her persistence. We settle in a comfortable rhythm, I pet her with one hand and hold the book in the other while she curls in my lap purring contently and gets busy kneading her biscuits. Her nemesis, the book, forgotten for a moment.

 Luna AKA Luna de buho when in trouble sitting on my lap.

Books have always been a comfort to me throughout my life. As a small child my greatest joy was when my Dad would tuck me in bed at night and read "Horton Hatches the Egg" by Dr. Suess.

Books taught me lessons, eased my challenges, and provided knowledge.


At Prairie Star Botanicals, you can find a book or two or three at our desks. What herbal knowledge I did not learn from the matriarchs of my family, I learned from books. We constantly have a thirst for knowledge and have many interesting discussions throughout the work day.  We also have many customers and clients tell us they want to learn more about herbs but don’t know where to start.  I have sent people to Herbalist Teachers in our area for formal instruction but I have not compiled a list of books one could read without formal training. 

Sir Francis Bacon is known for writing the famous quote “Knowledge is Power.”  I like to think that he meant, not the man-made greedy power, but the sharing of knowledge with one another and empowering each other.  I thought it would be a wonderful idea to share what herbal books my Prairie Star Family read. Each of us are unique in our knowledge skill set, so I asked “What was your first herbal book? And why.”  I wasn’t disappointed in the responses, each first herbal book of my Prairie Star Family fits their personality.  I have included links to purchase the books and/or more information about the author.


Lisa is our Matriarch at Prairie Star Botanicals.  Her first herbal book is “Potter’s Herbal Cyclopaedia” by Elizabeth Williamson.  She explains why: While not the most exciting book, this is a reference that I always have at my side.  It has descriptions of the part of the plant used, chemistry, some organoleptic and medicinal uses. Even for plants like coffee and pumpkin.”

Aaron, our garden guru’s first book is “Weeds of the Great Plains” by Stubbendiek, Coffin and Landholt.  He said it helped him with native and naturalized plant identification.

Our Clinical Herbalist Paige recommends “The Earthwise Herbal Repertory; The Definitive Practioner’s Guide" by Matthew Wood.  “It was one of the first herbal books that I really latched onto.  I like it because you can easily look up different conditions and it gives specific indications for why you’d use one herb instead of another for the same condition.  It’s a nice starting point for an Herbalist.  Matthew Wood also works with some bioregional plants, which is awesome.”

I started getting serious with studying Herbalism from an Herbalist standpoint when I became pregnant with my first child.  My first book is” Wise Woman Herbal Through The Childbearing Years” by Susun Weed. This book really spoke to me. It answered questions I had with a straight forward instruction much like myself. LOL. I still have the book and many more from her.  Her knowledge has directed me through the seasons of my life.


There are so many books out there on Herbalism just waiting to be explored.  I have included a few more than the ones mention.  May your thirst for herbal knowledge be a fulfilling one.


  1. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1275516.Potter_s_Herbal_Cyclopaedia
  2. https://nda.nebraska.gov/forms/nw11.pdf
  3. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28185931-the-earthwise-herbal-repertory
  4. https://www.wisewomanbookshop.com/product-page/wise-woman-herbal-for-the-childbearing-year
  5. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13507855-rosemary-gladstar-s-medicinal-herbs  The Godmother of Herbalism!
  6. https://www.amazon.com/Rosemary-Gladstars-Herbal-Remedies-Childrens/dp/1580171532
  7. Not an Herbal Book but my Dad's favorite to read to us  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11301.Horton_Hatches_the_Egg




1 comment

  • patty

    thank you for sharing your knowledge!

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