The most recommended books on weeds

Who picked these books? Meet our 9 experts.

9 authors created a book list connected to weeds, and here are their favorite weeds books.
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Book cover of Madder: A Memoir in Weeds

Nicole Walker Author Of Processed Meats: Essays on Food, Flesh, and Navigating Disaster

From my list on science as a story.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Nicole's book list on science as a story

Nicole Walker Why did Nicole love this book?

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.

By Marco Wilkinson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Madder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Madder, matter, mater-a weed, a state of mind, a material, a meaning, a mother. Essayist and horticulturist Marco Wilkinson searches for the roots of his own selfhood among family myths and memories.

"My life, these weeds." Marco Wilkinson uses his deep knowledge of undervalued plants, mainly weeds-invisible yet ubiquitous, unwanted yet abundant, out-of-place yet flourishing-as both structure and metaphor in these intimate vignettes. Madder combines poetic meditations on nature, immigration, queer sensuality, and willful forgetting with recollections of Wilkinson's Rhode Island childhood and glimpses of his maternal family's life in Uruguay. The son of a fierce, hard-working mother who tried…

Book cover of Weeds: In Defense of Nature's Most Unloved Plants

Jessica J. Lee Author Of Dispersals: On Plants, Borders, and Belonging

From my list on change how you think about plants.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved plants since I was a child – that’s probably why I grew up to become an environmental historian and nature writer! But I longed for stories about plants and nature that didn’t paint them as passive and ours to dominate. And stories that represented the voices of those on the margins of nature writing. I have written three books of nature writing, as well as a nature-themed picture books, and many more shorter essays on the natural world along the way.   

Jessica's book list on change how you think about plants

Jessica J. Lee Why did Jessica love this book?

I have always felt uneasy about how we vilify weeds—and reading Mabey’s book helped me understand exactly why!

By showing the power of scrappy, forgotten plants, Mabey re-enchanted me with the less showy, less obviously desirable corners of our world. It’s a book that’s lyrical while being jam-packed with information.

By Richard Mabey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Weeds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“[A] witty and beguiling meditation on weeds and their wily ways….You will never look at a weed, or flourish a garden fork, in the same way again.”
—Richard Holmes, author of The Age of Wonder

“In this fascinating, richly detailed book, Richard Mabey gives weeds their full due.”
—Carl Zimmer, author of Evolution

Richard Mabey, Great Britain’s Britain’s “greatest living nature writer” (London Times), has written a stirring and passionate defense of nature’s most unloved plants.  Weeds is a fascinating, eye-opening, and vastly entertaining appreciation of the natural world’s unappreciated wildflowers that will appeal to fans of David Attenborough, Robert…

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

Vicki Tapia Author Of Somebody Stole My Iron: A Family Memoir of Dementia

From my list on Alzheimer’s and dementia caregiving stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Vicki's book list on Alzheimer’s and dementia caregiving stories

Vicki Tapia Why did Vicki love this book?

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. 

By Kathryn Harrison,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Weeds in Nana's Garden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

A young girl and her Nana hold a special bond that blooms in the surroundings of Nana’s magical garden.Then one day, the girl finds many weeds in the garden. She soon discovers that her beloved Nana has Alzheimer’s Disease; an illness that affects an adult brain with tangles that get in the way of thoughts, kind of like how weeds get in the way of flowers.As time passes, the weeds grow thicker and her Nana declines, but the girl accepts the difficult changes with love, learning to take-over as the garden’s caregiver.Extending from the experience of caring for her mother,…

Book cover of My Weeds: A Gardener's Botany

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

From my list on gaining garden know-how.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Pam's book list on gaining garden know-how

Pam Peirce Why did Pam love this book?

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. 

By Sarah B. Stein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Weeds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The author of this work tells readers what weeds tell us about our gardens and the lives of all plants. She compares weeding tools and methods, and discusses the uses of weeds.

Book cover of Acetaria: A Discourse Of Sallets

William Woys Weaver Author Of Flavors from the Garden: Heirloom Vegetable Recipes from Roughwood

From my list on for garden gourmets.

Why am I passionate about this?

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. 

William's book list on for garden gourmets

William Woys Weaver Why did William love this book?

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. 

By John Evelyn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Acetaria as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Acetaria: A Discourse Of Sallets, has been considered important throughout the human history, and so that this work is never forgotten we have made efforts in its preservation by republishing this book in a modern format for present and future generations. This whole book has been reformatted, retyped and designed. These books are not made of scanned copies of their original work and hence the text is clear and readable.

Book cover of The Wild Wisdom of Weeds: 13 Essential Plants for Human Survival

Matthew and Julie Author Of Backyard Medicine: Harvest and Make Your Own Herbal Remedies

From my list on practical herbalism and foraging.

Why are we passionate about this?

As writers, we believe that if you have something wonderful to say it needs a beautiful book to say it in. In writing six books together, in the area of herbal medicine and foraging, we have been lucky to find publishers who share our beliefs. How it works is that Julie is our qualified herbalist and a photographer, layout, and typesetting specialist, while Matthew is a professional editor, writer, and compulsive compiler of bibliographies and indexes. Our USP is that we insist each plant deserves a recipe or two, and that we feature many forgotten wild plants from the old herbals that we love to bring back to life.

Matthew's book list on practical herbalism and foraging

Matthew and Julie Why did Matthew love this book?

We value this book because it is alone in giving equal weight to the foraging (for eating) and medicinal values (for health) of thirteen super-abundant survival plants.

We love its breezy but informed tone, its original recipes, and its underlying serious ecological purpose. What we found somewhat irritating was the twee little verses that introduce each plant: these are groan-worthy! But that’s the only and slight criticism, and we love to follow Katrina for fun and very well-informed foraging!

By Katrina Blair,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Wild Wisdom of Weeds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is the only book on foraging and edible weeds to focus on the thirteen weeds found all over the world, each of which represents a complete food source and extensive medical pharmacy and first-aid kit. More than just a field guide to wild edibles, it is a global plan for human survival.

When Katrina Blair was eleven she had a life-changing experience where wild plants spoke to her, beckoning her to become a champion of their cause. Since then she has spent months on end taking walkabouts in the wild, eating nothing but what she…

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

Ellen Leventhal Author Of A Flood of Kindness

From my list on the healing power of kindness.

Why am I passionate about this?

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. 

Ellen's book list on the healing power of kindness

Ellen Leventhal Why did Ellen love this book?

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.

By Alayne Kay Christian, Polina Gortman (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Weed That Woke Christmas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

“A heartwarming holiday tale that proves even the littlest things can make a big difference.” —Kirkus Reviews

“The fine message about holiday spirit makes for a perfect read for parents seeking stories that encourage kids to feel empowered to begin changes that cross age and economic barriers. The Weed That Woke Christmas is a lovely, positive, much-needed story for modern times.” —D. Donovan, Sr. Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

This heartwarming and inspiring book proves that even the smallest gestures can make a big difference and transform apathy and oblivion into awareness, unity, community, kindness, and hope. Partly truth and partly…

Book cover of If I Were a Tree

Cindy Jenson-Elliott Author Of Weeds Find a Way

From my list on to get kids outside and exploring nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Cindy's book list on to get kids outside and exploring nature

Cindy Jenson-Elliott Why did Cindy love this book?

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.

By Andrea Zimmerman, Jing Jing Tsong (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked If I Were a Tree as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Two siblings imagine life as a tree, and envision what they would hear, feel, and see.

If I were a tree, I know how I'd be.
My trunk strong and wide, my limbs side to side,
I'd stand towering tall, high above all,
My leaves growing big, and buds on each twig.
If I were a tree, that's how I'd be.

The sister has camped in the forest many times before. The brother is nervous for his first overnight trip. As the illustrations in this multifaceted picture book show the siblings discovering the woods, the text celebrates the strength and…