The best herb books

3 authors have picked their favorite books about herbs and why they recommend each book.

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Magical Herbalism

By Scott Cunningham,

Book cover of Magical Herbalism: The Secret Craft of the Wise

This is a classical book on magical herbalism that has a prominent position on my bookshelf and which I always refer to when exploring plants and herbs. I love the unique way that this book connects you to the magical properties of herbs and plants, by exploring for example their astrological connections.

I have obtained so much value from this book, not only from the knowledge gained of herbs and plants but also from learning how you can use plants and herbs in different ways for healing, for example by making incenses, which is explained so clearly in the book. 


Who am I?

I have expertise in the area of spirituality and alternative health from working for over 20 years as a shamanic practitioner, spiritual teacher, and healer. I have travelled extensively and trained with many renowned teachers all over the world. I also provide ancestral healing and train students to be ancestral healers. Through my own healing journey, I have studied many healing and alternative approaches to wellness. I have studied extensively with plants and herbs. In 2020 I wrote my award-winning book Illumination of the Shadow, which explores ancestral healing. I have always had an interest in books in the mind, body, and spirit area, and read extensively in this area.


I wrote...

Illumination of the Shadow: Ancestral Wisdom from the past for the future

By Anthea Durand,

Book cover of Illumination of the Shadow: Ancestral Wisdom from the past for the future

What is my book about?

Imagine tracking back thousands of years to the origin of a repeated ancestral illness, for example, depression in your ancestral field. This award-winning book demonstrates that this is possible and how this wisdom can help transform your life. The real-life ancestral stories shared in this book are reflections of ancestral experiences on earth

Shadow work, looking into our own shadow and that of the collective and your ancestors, is the key to healing, spiritual evolution, and development. Healing ancestral patterns is the key to shadow work; it frees the individual from that which does not serve anymore. This book includes exercises and great wisdom to help you heal your life. It also includes 30 powerful illustrations, to aid the healing journey through the book.

Crafting with Herbs

By Debbie Wolfe,

Book cover of Crafting with Herbs: Do-It-Yourself Botanical Decor, Beauty Products, Kitchen Essentials, and More

This former DIY Network writer has hit a home run with her latest book which is packed with all kinds of ideas for herbs, all beautifully photographed. From sachets and salves to herbal cleaning vinegars and smudge sticks, the author shares all kinds of projects. There are even edibles including herb butter and herbal teas. This one is not to be missed. 


Who am I?

I am a New Englander, born and bred. I am a 5th-generation chicken keeper and lifelong gardener. An author and Maine Master Gardener, I live on a small farm in Maine where I raise chickens, ducks, and geese and grow all kinds of vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers. My mom was a 3rd-grade teacher and my dad was incredibly artistic, so that combination resulted in me being an avid DIYer. I love to build and make and paint and raise and grow all kinds of things.


I wrote...

Gardening with Chickens: Plans and Plants for You and Your Hens

By Lisa Steele,

Book cover of Gardening with Chickens: Plans and Plants for You and Your Hens

What is my book about?

Welcome to a world where chickens and gardens coexist! Join Lisa Steele, chicken-keeper extraordinaire and founder of Fresh Eggs Daily, on a unique journey through the garden. Start by planning your garden and learning strategies for keeping your plants safe while they grow, plus the most valuable herbs, composting chicken manure, using chickens to work the soil, which plants to avoid and more. Then comes the fun part: enjoy the harvest, and even let the chickens graze!

Lisa's friendly writing, together with inspirational photos and illustrations, will have you rolling up your sleeves and reaching for your gardening tools. Whether you're an experienced chicken keeper, master gardener, or just getting into these hobbies, Gardening with Chickens is an indispensable guide for a harmonious homestead.

The Green Pharmacy

By James A. Duke,

Book cover of The Green Pharmacy: The Ultimate Compendium Of Natural Remedies From The World's Foremost Authority On Healing Herbs

Dr. Duke was a legend in the worlds of herbalism and botany, a field in which he not only earned a doctorate but made his life’s work. After immersing himself for many years in the Amazonian rainforest and Central America, he went on to create Dr. Duke’s Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases at the USDA. Traveling widely to find plants with anti-cancer activity, Duke and his team documented the chemical properties of thousands of species. His bestseller is stocked with remedies for more than a hundred of the most common ailments. Among the most accessible herbals for a general audience, this book is delightfully written, scientifically sound, and quite funny. With warmth, wit, and abundant good reason, Duke describes why and how to make your own natural medicine cabinet.


Who am I?

I’m an herbalist, writer, and founder of Botanical Culture, a new compendium of plants and the people who cultivate them. I love helping people find the best herbs to support their health and well-being, whether by consulting, research and writing, or teaching workshops. After training at an herbalism school and more than a decade of growing and foraging, I’m still wonderstruck every time I walk into a garden or browse an apothecary. Great books about herbs inspire the same feeling of reverence for our oldest healing traditions and put the power of nature within reach. 


I wrote...

Nature's Remedies: An Illustrated Guide to Healing Herbs

By Jean Willoughby, Katie Shelly (illustrator),

Book cover of Nature's Remedies: An Illustrated Guide to Healing Herbs

What is my book about?

Throughout history, herbs have been used medicinally to promote healing and vitality. This beginner-friendly guide welcomes a new generation to the trusted tradition. Engagingly written for a wide audience, it presents richly detailed profiles of 60 herbs, including cultural history, uses, tips, and beautiful watercolor illustrations.  

The Male Herbal

By James Green,

Book cover of The Male Herbal: The Definitive Health Care Book for Men and Boys

This book has been borrowed from me and not returned twice, so I suppose that says it all. It’s also the reason my third copy is an e-book. Once you read Green’s excellent guide, you’ll understand why two otherwise honorable men found the need to hang on to it. With its accessible model of male physical systems and insight into common stressors, Green’s book is a revelation on male health and illness. The ultimate goal of this book is not simply to remedy this or that ailment but more broadly to help men and boys create a personalized approach to wellness based on their body type and needs. Its alphabetical herb list and tasty recipes make this a handy reference as well. May it have a long off-the-shelf life in the home of any man who wants to heal and thrive. 


Who am I?

I’m an herbalist, writer, and founder of Botanical Culture, a new compendium of plants and the people who cultivate them. I love helping people find the best herbs to support their health and well-being, whether by consulting, research and writing, or teaching workshops. After training at an herbalism school and more than a decade of growing and foraging, I’m still wonderstruck every time I walk into a garden or browse an apothecary. Great books about herbs inspire the same feeling of reverence for our oldest healing traditions and put the power of nature within reach. 


I wrote...

Nature's Remedies: An Illustrated Guide to Healing Herbs

By Jean Willoughby, Katie Shelly (illustrator),

Book cover of Nature's Remedies: An Illustrated Guide to Healing Herbs

What is my book about?

Throughout history, herbs have been used medicinally to promote healing and vitality. This beginner-friendly guide welcomes a new generation to the trusted tradition. Engagingly written for a wide audience, it presents richly detailed profiles of 60 herbs, including cultural history, uses, tips, and beautiful watercolor illustrations.  

The Potted Herb

By Abbie Zabar,

Book cover of The Potted Herb

This book is a classic in gardening literature. I prize it so much that I keep grimy paws off my first-edition hardcover copy, and use a later paperback edition as a working copy. Abbie Zabar’s prose is authoritative and delightful to read; her drawings in pen and ink are exquisite. 

Zabar loves beautiful things in miniature. She dedicates this oeuvre, “To all those who want a little garden in their lives.” As in a little garden in a pot comprising annual culinary herbs or perennial herbal topiaries. Everything you need to know about pot culture, choice of container (she is mad about unglazed clay pots), herbs best suited for potting, and the art and craft of topiary is contained therein (pun intended). To round out the book are some simply delicious recipes (I can vouch for the lemon verbena tisane) and pleasing little projects employing potted herb cuttings.


Who am I?

Amy Goldman is a gardener, author, artist, philanthropist, and well-known advocate for seed saving, plant breeding, and heirloom fruits and vegetables. Her mission is to celebrate and catalogue the magnificent diversity of standard, open-pollinated varieties, and to promote their conservation. Amy gave up a career as a clinical psychologist to follow her first love which was kitchen gardening. In her own words from Heirloom Harvest: “I have romantic leanings and tend to follow my heart… In hindsight, I know my heart steered me straight, and toward a future I could never have imagined…My passion for the fruits of the earth has deep roots….”


I wrote...

The Melon

By Amy Goldman Fowler, Victor Schrager (photographer),

Book cover of The Melon

What is my book about?

Melons are the vegetable garden’s crown jewels – and Amy Goldman’s lifelong love and calling. Amy’s latest book, The Melon, will entice and educate, whether you are a gardener, a locavore, or simply delight in the inherent beauty and evanescence of the fruits of the vine.

Illustrated by Victor Schrager, a master of still-life photography, and many years in the making, this book is comprehensive and definitive. It includes portraits in words and photographs of 125 extraordinary varieties grown by Amy in her Hudson Valley garden, expert advice on picking and choosing melons and watermelons in the market, growing them in the garden, and saving pure heirloom seeds. Twenty delicious recipes and seed sources are included. 

The Art & Practice of Spiritual Herbalism

By Karen M. Rose,

Book cover of The Art & Practice of Spiritual Herbalism: Transform, Heal, and Remember with the Power of Plants and Ancestral Medicine

As a child in Guyana, Rose was steeped in African, Caribbean, and Latin American healing traditions. Trained in Eastern and Western herbal medicine, she is a master herbalist and owner of Sacred Vibes Apothecary. Her first book brims with insights that guide her work to unite “plants, ancestral practices, and community.” Rose affirms that spiritual herbalism is based on “a relational vision of health, with the understanding that we cannot heal alone in a vacuum.” I love how her use of stories, recipes, and daily practices makes healing with herbs accessible and enjoyable. With chapters organized by major body systems, Rose builds the reader’s knowledge of how physical systems work, insight into the sources of imbalance, and confidence to embark on a path of transformative well-being. 


Who am I?

I’m an herbalist, writer, and founder of Botanical Culture, a new compendium of plants and the people who cultivate them. I love helping people find the best herbs to support their health and well-being, whether by consulting, research and writing, or teaching workshops. After training at an herbalism school and more than a decade of growing and foraging, I’m still wonderstruck every time I walk into a garden or browse an apothecary. Great books about herbs inspire the same feeling of reverence for our oldest healing traditions and put the power of nature within reach. 


I wrote...

Nature's Remedies: An Illustrated Guide to Healing Herbs

By Jean Willoughby, Katie Shelly (illustrator),

Book cover of Nature's Remedies: An Illustrated Guide to Healing Herbs

What is my book about?

Throughout history, herbs have been used medicinally to promote healing and vitality. This beginner-friendly guide welcomes a new generation to the trusted tradition. Engagingly written for a wide audience, it presents richly detailed profiles of 60 herbs, including cultural history, uses, tips, and beautiful watercolor illustrations.  

The Illustrated Herbiary

By Maia Toll, Kate O’Hara (illustrator),

Book cover of The Illustrated Herbiary: Guidance and Rituals from 36 Bewitching Botanicals

So many books with beautifully illustrated florals are aimed at children, but the magic of flora is not just for kids. A wonderful example of this is The Illustrated Herbiary, which focuses on 36 botanicals like rosemary (for remembrance, just like in my book), apple, and clover. Filled with rituals and reflections for each herb, Kate O’Hara’s beautiful and detailed illustrations bring Maia Toll’s words to life.


Who am I?

I’ve always been fascinated by nature, even from a young age. My parents would set up easels for my sister and me to paint outdoors, and I haven’t stopped drawing since. I tend to focus on flora and fauna, making illustrations with subdued colors and intricate details. I love to create illustrations for books, and occasionally, I’ll write them, too. Often reflective of history, mythology, and folklore, my work captures an old-world feeling and a love of nature. In my spare time, you can find me in my garden or out walking my dog, Molly.


I wrote...

Floriography: An Illustrated Guide to the Victorian Language of Flowers

By Jessica Roux,

Book cover of Floriography: An Illustrated Guide to the Victorian Language of Flowers

What is my book about?

Floriography is a full-color guide to the historical uses and secret meanings behind an impressive array of flowers and herbs. The book explores the coded significances associated with various blooms, from flowers for a lover to flowers for an enemy.

The language of flowers was historically used as a means of secret communication. It soared in popularity during the 19th century, especially in Victorian England and the U.S., when proper etiquette discouraged open displays of emotion. Mysterious and playful, the language of flowers has roots in everything from the characteristics of the plant to its presence in folklore and history. Researched and illustrated by popular artist Jessica Roux, this book makes a stunning display piece, conversation-starter, or thoughtful gift.

Hatfield's Herbal

By Gabrielle Hatfield,

Book cover of Hatfield's Herbal: The Curious Stories of Britain's Wild Plants

Plants are our companions through life. We grow, pick and eat some of them, but how much do we really value them? Our ancestors had an intimate knowledge and understanding of the power of plants and were aware of which were helpful and which caused harm. They wrapped comfrey leaves around the damaged legs of animals, believed that fairies sheltered from the rain beneath ragwort plants, cured childhood hernias with the aid of ash saplings, and recognized the benefits of rosehips long before science could analyse their nutrients.

Hatfield’s Herbal follows the tradition of so many other excellent herbals, weaving botany, plant magic, medicine, and folklore into an engrossing mixture that always keeps me reading long after I found what I was originally looking for. Read a good herbal and you’ll never look at a so-called weed in the same way again.


Who am I?

I have always tuned into the atmosphere of places. Sometimes this is a joy and sometimes it’s a very different experience, but either way, it’s a fundamental part of me. It spills over into my work, too, because each of the thirty-odd non-fiction books I’ve written has its own strong atmosphere. I was particularly aware of this while writing Red Sky at Night, as I wanted to evoke a sense of the past informing the present, whether that means planting a shrub to keep witches away from your front door or baking what I still think is one of the best fruit cakes ever.


I wrote...

Red Sky at Night: The Book of Lost Countryside Wisdom

By Jane Struthers,

Book cover of Red Sky at Night: The Book of Lost Countryside Wisdom

What is my book about?

Have you ever enjoyed a picnic in a field or lazed quietly in a garden or park while watching the clouds scudding above your head, bees nosediving into flowers and birds coasting along on thermals? Have you ever gazed up at the stars at night, marvelling at what you see, or drawn your chair up closer to a log fire while knowing that humans have been doing this for millennia?

Then this is a book for you. It evokes that sense of having a fundamental connection with nature and your surroundings, whether you’re in a town, city, or the countryside. Red Sky at Night also describes many of our country's customs and traditions that have all but vanished but deserve to be remembered.

Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic

By Catherine Yronwode,

Book cover of Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic: A Materia Magica of African-American Conjure

If you want to know about some of the earliest forms of magic that originated in America, this book is for you. This book focuses on folk magic, with an emphasis on Hoodoo, the magic of enslaved black people, with practices that include nature and the elements as sources of power. The text provides botanical information on magic plants, and spell recipes for healing and protection. As a plus, the book is lavishly and beautifully illustrated with extensive how-to guides on creating your own charms for good luck and fortune.

Who am I?

I have been studying American styles of magic for more than 30 years. Having received a Ph.D. in Religious Studies, I have explored the idea of magic as a natural counterpart to both religious thought and scientific theory. After teaching courses on this subject to college undergraduates, I recommend these books based on what I have found to be the favorites of students and peers as the most accessible, enjoyable, and practical sources for beginners.


I wrote...

Black Magic: Religion and the African American Conjuring Tradition

By Yvonne Patricia Chireau,

Book cover of Black Magic: Religion and the African American Conjuring Tradition

What is my book about?

Black Magic looks at the origins, meaning, and uses of Conjure―the African American tradition of healing and harming that evolved from African, European, and American elements―from the slavery period to well into the twentieth century.

Illuminating a world that is dimly understood by both scholars and the general public, Yvonne P. Chireau describes Conjure and other related traditions, such as Hoodoo and Rootworking, in a beautifully written, richly detailed history that presents the voices and experiences of African Americans and shows how magic has informed their culture. Focusing on the relationship between Conjure and Christianity, Chireau shows how these seemingly contradictory traditions have worked together in a complex and complementary fashion to provide spiritual empowerment for African Americans, both slave and free, living in white America.

Hormone Intelligence

By Aviva Romm,

Book cover of Hormone Intelligence: The Complete Guide to Calming Hormone Chaos and Restoring Your Body's Natural Blueprint for Well-Being

Drawing on more than three decades of experience, Dr. Romm has written an essential guide to female health and wellness. For Romm, herbs hold pride of place in the art and science of healing. As a midwife, herbalist, and board-certified family physician with a specialty in women’s health and obstetrics, her work combines a deep understanding and respect for both traditional herbal medicine and Western allopathic medicine. Anyone who wants to better understand or address specific female health issues will benefit from this revelatory book. Anyone who wants to integrate herbs into their lifestyle will enjoy the book’s abundant tips, meal plans, and 6-week action plan. Dr. Romm’s big-hearted and encouraging style will leave readers feeling committed to charting a course for better health at any age.


Who am I?

I’m an herbalist, writer, and founder of Botanical Culture, a new compendium of plants and the people who cultivate them. I love helping people find the best herbs to support their health and well-being, whether by consulting, research and writing, or teaching workshops. After training at an herbalism school and more than a decade of growing and foraging, I’m still wonderstruck every time I walk into a garden or browse an apothecary. Great books about herbs inspire the same feeling of reverence for our oldest healing traditions and put the power of nature within reach. 


I wrote...

Nature's Remedies: An Illustrated Guide to Healing Herbs

By Jean Willoughby, Katie Shelly (illustrator),

Book cover of Nature's Remedies: An Illustrated Guide to Healing Herbs

What is my book about?

Throughout history, herbs have been used medicinally to promote healing and vitality. This beginner-friendly guide welcomes a new generation to the trusted tradition. Engagingly written for a wide audience, it presents richly detailed profiles of 60 herbs, including cultural history, uses, tips, and beautiful watercolor illustrations.  

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