Beginner Medicinal Herbal Books | The Books That Got Me Started

Are you just starting your journey into herb crafting and medicinal herbs? When I first started to build my personal apothecary for medicinal purposes, these were the books that began my journey. These books led me deep into the woods, briars, brush and roadsides foraging for herbs. These books also led me to discover my local Natural Health Food Stores and their bulk herb sections to round out the rest of the herbs in my apothecary cabinet that weren’t native to my area.

I hope that you enjoy my quick lil review of the first books that got me into medicinal herbs and building my apothecary.

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I have a range of books to share today! Encyclopedias for herbs and medicinal information, foraging books, and folklore books. 

Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs

As you can see there are a ton of sticky notes in this book. This is a really great book to have in your collection if you like to forage for herbs or if you want to learn more about any herb. I go to this a lot when I’m looking for a new herb. The thing that I like about this book most is the sketches of what the herbs look like. In addition to the sketches there’s also information in this book about the cultivation of the herb, history, the growing zones, etc. 

Indicators for external / internal use. Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs also features a lot of really beautiful full-color photos. This is just a beautiful book to look at. I also really like this book when I want to sketch versions of the plants in my own journals or if I’m making an art piece. This is a really great reference book for an artist. 

Tom Brown’s Guides To Everything…

The next set of books that I really got into, actually came to me from my husband. This was towards the beginning of our relationship, many many moons ago. I had just started really getting into medicinal herbs. I was trying to learn more and just beef up my knowledge about medicinal herbs, like what to use and what not to use and what to completely stay away from. He suggested, Tom Brown’s Guide To Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants

Tom Brown’s Guide To Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants

I really love this book and really loved the series. My husband was originally introduced to this book from the Ukrainian Boy Scouts. This book has a lot of really great information in it. Tom Browns Guide To Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants is written more like a story. Tom Brown talks to his grandfather, not metaphorical grandfather, it’s his actual grandfather. His grandfather has all of this information about medicinal herbs, how to find them and use them. His grandfather goes into the spiritual connection with the plants too, and I thought that was really interesting. I really like the balance of the spirituality aspects of the plants and the medicinal knowledge.

The book also shows you how to forage for plants and what to look for in the area. One of the first herbs that I really got to know was mullein. In this book there’s a description, the personality of the plant (kind of like the spirituality side that I mentioned), where you can find it, whether or not it can be used for food and then it’s medicinal properties.

I think that Tom Brown’s Guide To Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants is a really great book if you want a gentle way into learning about medicinal plants. 

Tom Brown’s Field Guide To Nature Observation & Tracking

The other books in this collection are really great too. Tom Brown’s Field Guide To Nature Observation & Tracking; I really like this one too. This is actually the one that my husband used in the scouts. The book has a lot of really great information about tracking animals in North America. We’re both really outdoorsy people and we love to camp. These books were actually a really great place for us to start bonding in our relationship. I am really grateful that I ran into these books! The three that I added to our Tom Brown collection, after getting to know those first two books are… 

Tom Brown’s Field Guide to City & Suburban Survival

Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Nature & Survival For Children

Tom Brown’s Field Guide Wilderness Survival

If you’re looking for something that is an easier read when it comes to medicinal herbs that isn’t a straight up encyclopedia, I highly recommend all of Tom Brown’s books.

Healing Wise by Susan Weed

Another book that is really similar to the feel of the Tom Brown books is, Healing Wise by Susan Weed. Honestly, when I first started reading this book I did not like it AT ALL! The book was too woo wooey for me. It just didn’t feel as grounded in reality as I wanted at the time when I was first learning about the medicinal aspects of herbs. BUT… I’ve actually really grown to love this book. Healing Wise has a lot of really beautiful illustrations, especially the entry for violet. When I first got this book I wanted to color in the illustrations and had to keep myself for doing that.

This book reads more like you were having a conversation with the plant itself and getting to know it and its history. This is what turned me off from this book. It just wasn’t what I was looking for at the time. I was looking for real medicinal knowledge and this book reads more like folklore. BUT now that I look at it as a folklore book, I really really appreciate it. I now like the stories behind each of the plants.

So what you can expect in this book, from an entry about a plant, is a conversation with the plant to start off and then it goes into the facts about the plant. The botanical name, other species that are related to it, its natural order, English, Chinese, French names, really a bunch of different languages and what this plant is called. The food uses, perfume uses, the habitat that you can find it in, the natural range, toxicity and how you can identify these plants.

Healing Wise has a page with all of the facts for each plant and a plant walk that shows how you would find the plant in the habitat, what to look for, the type of climate conditions that you would find it in, and also the conditions where it won’t be growing, and the seasons where you won’t see it. After all of that information is the plant properties and uses. There’s a lot of different little entries about how to use the actual flower portion and then how to use the roots and whether or not you can use either of those…. This book just keeps going! To see the rest of what is in this book (recipes, folklore, trivia, etc.) watch my video here.

Healing Wise by Susan Weed has a lot of information! This book is like if you were to blend all the information on a plant folklore, medicinal uses, how to find the herb and cultivate the herbs, and fun facts. 

Those are the books that started my journey into medicinal herbs! I had a few that were more on the folklore side and more of the mythology behind the plants, and then I have a lot of real world encyclopedia books. I even have an antique field guide book that’s really beautiful that I like to reference now and again and sometimes just get out to look at the beautiful artwork.


Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs

Healing Wise (Wise Woman Herbal Series) by Susun S. Weed

Tom Brown’s Guide to Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants

Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Nature Observation and Tracking

Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Nature and Survival for Children

Tom Brown’s Field Guide to City and Suburban Survival

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Hey You! I’m Jenny, the founder of Indigo Spirituality. I’m passionate about Spirituality & connecting to the natural cycles of Nature. Indigo Spirituality strives to be the ultimate resource for getting more in touch with the natural world around you no matter where you live. Indigo Spirituality is part of the Owls & Indigo Network.