The best books on weeds

1 authors have picked their favorite books about weeds and why they recommend each book.

Soon, you will be able to filter by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to explore books.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

My Weeds

By Sarah B. Stein,

Book cover of My Weeds: A Gardener's Botany

While you will learn much about the nature and management of weeds from this book, you will also find yourself painlessly learning the basics of botany-- the parts of plants, how they live, how seeds evolved, how ecosystems evolve. While she keeps weeds at bay, Stein favors a garden, as do I, in which the desirable plants may self-sow a bit. It is a gardening philosophy that is current and can produce lovely, serendipitous gardens. 

Who am I?

When I was studying plant science in graduate school, I realized that what I really wanted to do was not lab research but to help people understand plants better so they could grow more beautiful and bountiful gardens. To this end, I have written several books, founded the San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners (SLUG), taught horticulture at City College of San Francisco for several decades, and, since 2006, written a column on gardening for the SF Chronicle. My list of books about gardening know-how will painlessly prepare you to grow plants well.

I wrote...

Golden Gate Gardening, The Complete Guide to Year-Round Food Gardening in the San Francisco Bay Area & Coastal California

By Pam Peirce,

Book cover of Golden Gate Gardening,  The Complete Guide to Year-Round Food Gardening in the San Francisco Bay Area & Coastal California

What is my book about?

Now in its third, revised edition, Golden Gate Gardening introduces readers to food gardening in California from Eureka to San Luis Obispo, and from the coast inland to the edge of the Central Valley. This mediterranean-climate region is like no other in the U. S. Summers vary from cool at the coast to hot inland, with rain only in winters. The whole region allows year-round production of vegetables, herbs, fruits, edible, and cutting flowers.

This book is an indispensable source of information on all the topics you need for success: what to plant and when, how to start seed, prepare the soil, conserve water, control weeds, and manage pests in less-toxic ways. It is a clear, friendly book that will guide you to garden success and enjoyment.


By Marco Wilkinson,

Book cover of Madder: A Memoir in Weeds

Marco Wilkinson writes about his mother who moved from Uruguay to the States, who he knows well, and his father, who he doesn’t. Wilkinson understands his childhood and complicated adulthood as a story intertwined with the plants he’s learned about. In Madder, the narrator details plants’ xylem and their weediness, their Latin names, and their unpredictable growing habits while peeling away the internal systems of his own plant-like self. Wilkinson pairs plant with human to show how growth, thirst, rootedness, and supportive nutrients make for resilient bodies.

Wilkinson takes such care, too, to pull back the weeds and to pull them apart—Thanks to his careful attention to every part of the plant, I can see through the plant as well as inside the workings of the plant. I am physically in the body even though I get that it’s a big metaphor for the mind.

Who am I?

At a time when people are claiming to “believe” in science or not, books that incorporate science into their personal narratives make it clear that science isn’t a religion—it’s just there for the understanding. Using the natural world to understand humanity (or the lack of it), makes me believe that there are ways humans can be part of the world instead of pretend-masters of it. Each of these books tells a story about identity, growth, self-awareness (or the lack of it) while digging deeply into the earth that sustains us, confounds us, surprises and delights us—as well as sometimes breaks our hearts. I am an author of many books, an editor at Diagram, and a professor at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona.

I wrote...

Processed Meats: Essays on Food, Flesh, and Navigating Disaster

By Nicole Walker,

Book cover of Processed Meats: Essays on Food, Flesh, and Navigating Disaster

What is my book about?

In this book, Nicole Walker moves from the non-disaster of Y2K, the personal disaster of her baby born prematurely, to the larger disasters of climate change and the pandemic. Walker takes disasters and tries to plumb their depths, figure out the science behind them, understand what to do about them. When that fails, she cooks, where she feels she has a modicum of control but when investigating the science of what our agricultural practices do to the environment, even that modicum of control dissolves.

As the world seems to fall apart around her, the science behind climate change, cooking, respiratory Synyctial Virus, and Covid, she comes to realize it’s the pleasure of cooking with and for others that mitigates the disaster and turns it into something more manageable—something we might call regular life.

If I Were a Tree

By Andrea Zimmerman, Jing Jing Tsong (illustrator),

Book cover of If I Were a Tree

Behind weeds, trees are perhaps the most common plant many kids will encounter in their day to day lives, and another way children can access nature near home and school. And while trees are complex living things at the apex of the plant kingdom, they often are unnoticed and underappreciated. This beautiful lyrical picture book gives children a context to explore what a tree can do through kid-sized comparisons to what children can also do. Use it to help children explore one of the most common features of both urban and rural landscapes: trees.

Who am I?

I’ve been getting kids out into nature as an environmental education professional for over 30 years, in the garden, in the mountains, at the seashore, and in nearby nature. My life’s work, whether I am writing or teaching, is to help people experience the wonder of the natural world. I believe that children and adults need access to nature to grow and thrive, to find peace in a busy world, and to connect with each other. I know that, just like weeds, we can find a way to navigate the challenges in our lives when we connect with nature’s sustaining goodness wherever we find it.

I wrote...

Weeds Find a Way

By Cindy Jenson-Elliott, Carolyn Fisher (illustrator),

Book cover of Weeds Find a Way

What is my book about?

Getting kids outside into nature doesn’t require living next to a national park. It means exploring outdoors, wherever we happen to be. While many kids don’t have access to yards or school gardens, all children can connect with a special kind of plant, free of charge, every day: weeds.

Weeds are plants no one planted, growing in places no one intended them to be. Often reviled, weeds can be wonderful: adaptable, resilient, strong, and beautiful. Weeds Find a Way is a lyrical exploration of weeds’ adaptations to grow, reproduce, survive, and thrive, filling our world with fragrant beauty. And by looking at ordinary weeds’ extraordinary qualities, we discover our own ability to adapt and grow, survive and thrive, wherever we are planted.


By John Evelyn,

Book cover of Acetaria: A Discourse Of Sallets

John Eveyln’s book is classic. He was the first person (in English anyway) to discuss exotic vegetables, even common weeds, in terms of healthy salads. The man was literary, very smart, and he knew how to cook. I have often used his recipes and surprising enough, he is as trendy today as he was in 1699. Furthermore, this book is a talisman for real foodies. My enthusiasm for Evelyn was shared by the late English author Jane Grigson, whose book is also on my list. 

Who am I?

I have published 21 books, with three more on the way, and many deal with my kitchen garden at Roughwood and the massive seed collection started by my grandfather in 1932. Many of my books have won awards and several of them, especially Heirloom Vegetable Gardening, have become “breakthrough” texts in that they have shifted the conversation in a new direction. In short, I have helped make mainstream heritage fruits and vegetables, and my books are intended to help my readers enrich their lives by giving them meaning and context. It’s a story about learning to live well from simple basics: about discovering the gold in your own backyard. 

I wrote...

Flavors from the Garden: Heirloom Vegetable Recipes from Roughwood

By William Woys Weaver,

Book cover of Flavors from the Garden: Heirloom Vegetable Recipes from Roughwood

What is my book about?

This unique cookbook is woven together in a series of personal essays dealing with harvesting season by season, even gardening under the snow. The recipes focus on rare and unusual food plants like New Guinea Basil or Spaghetti Peppers in the Roughwood Seed Collection. Seeds are available from the Roughwood Center (a non-profit) otherwise I suggest working substitutes. This cutting-edge guide to eating well introduces American readers to many new flavor sensations, like Japanese Chrysanthemum Melons, Paraguayan flour corn, sorghum chapatis, and even pickled dahlias. The book is illustrated with award-winning photography all taken in natural light at Roughwood with garden-fresh ingredients.  

Weeds in Nana's Garden

By Kathryn Harrison,

Book cover of Weeds in Nana's Garden: A heartfelt story of love that helps explain Alzheimer's Disease and other dementias

Based on Kathryn Harrison’s daughter’s observation about her grandma, Weeds in Nana’s Garden is a metaphor that compares the weeds in a garden with the “weeds” that take over a person’s brain when they have dementia. Kathryn wrote and illustrated this engaging book to help her own children better understand what was happening to their beloved grandmother. I loved both the story and the brightly colored illustrations. Although written with children in mind, I believe it has a message for people of all ages. 

Who am I?

I am a caregiver who became an author. Both my parents had dementia. I found few books written from a personal perspective to give me guidance, so the journal I kept ultimately became the book I wished I could have read during our dementia journey. The journey didn’t end for me with the death of my parents. It led me to form a non-profit with two other dementia authors. This passion project has become a global community of authors who have written about Alzheimer’s and dementia from personal experience. Now more than 300 strong, we provide quality resources for caregivers and others concerned about dementia. Learn more at

I wrote...

Somebody Stole My Iron: A Family Memoir of Dementia

By Vicki Tapia,

Book cover of Somebody Stole My Iron: A Family Memoir of Dementia

What is my book about?

A few months after my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s-related dementia, Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and I became their family caregiver. My book grew out of the journal I kept as the three of us traveled the dementia journey together.

My memoir shares our story, laced with both humor and sadness, sprinkled with the ever-present "caregiver guilt." It weaves together my insights and the lessons I learned, offering the reassurance that you aren’t alone. Somebody Stole My Iron has been called "a must-read" for anyone experiencing the countless emotional ups and downs that accompany caregiving.

The Weed That Woke Christmas

By Alayne Kay Christian, Polina Gortman (illustrator),

Book cover of The Weed That Woke Christmas: The Mostly True Tale of the Toledo Christmas Weed

I love stories based on actual events, such as this. A scraggly plant grows in the middle of a traffic circle, and though most people ignore it as they pass by, a little girl wraps it in tinsel. More people add to it and even leave gifts under the decorated weed. Soon the community notices not just the little weed, but each other. Readers can find specific examples of kindness, not only in the text but in Gortman’s lovely illustrations. One of my favorites is where an older woman helps a homeless man find a job. The healing power of kindness is demonstrated as people’s hearts awaken, and the town is healed of its apathy due to the kindness of others.

Who am I?

I am a teacher, writer, mother, and grandmother who sees the debilitating effects of meanness and the healing effects of kindness daily. In case that isn’t reason enough for writing A Flood of Kindness, I’m also what some call “A Floodie.” Like my character’s home flooded, so did mine. As devastating as it was, the kindness of others was overwhelming. I spent time with children whose homes also flooded. Aside from losing material things, it is easy to feel powerless. Like myself, I found that the children began their healing when they were able to give back, even in very small ways. I knew this had to be my book. 

I wrote...

A Flood of Kindness

By Ellen Leventhal, Blythe Russo (illustrator),

Book cover of A Flood of Kindness

What is my book about?

A Flood of Kindness demonstrates the healing power of kindness to all children, especially those who have experienced grief or loss. When Charlotte’s home floods, she thinks only of her loss until a small act of kindness puts her on the road to healing, and she realizes that she’s not as powerless as she thought. Children will be encouraged to be kind to those who need a friend and empowered to help others in whatever way they can, no matter how small. This story demonstrates that kindness is so powerful that it can heal both the giver and the receiver. 

New book lists related to weeds

All book lists related to weeds

Bookshelves related to weeds