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Edible & Medicinal Wild Plants of the Midwest

Edible & Medicinal Wild Plants of the Midwest

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Third Edition

Author Matthew Alfs

Minnesota Historical Society Press (October 13, 2020)

An authoritative and easy-to-use reference to the medicinal and edible properties of wild plants from throughout the upper Midwest. An essential guide for anyone interested in natural healing.


The potential benefits of wild plants for human health and well-being are wide-ranging. But knowing which plants to use, and how, for edible and medicinal purposes requires a deep understanding of the characteristics and qualities of these species in the wild. Whether you are seeking an herbal remedy for a specific ailment or simply want to make the most of the natural bounty that surrounds us, you need look no further than this groundbreaking study.

Collected here are insightful tips and detailed descriptions relating to the edibility and healing potential of one hundred wild plants of the upper Midwest. Drawing on his expansive personal experience as well as more than a thousand scientific and ethnobotanical studies, author Matthew Alfs offers tips on foraging for and identifying the plants growing in the region’s fields, meadows, and woods. He provides detailed lists of plants for specific physiological functions and offers instruction for processing the plants to maximize their edible and medicinal properties. Now in its third edition, the book includes fullcolor photos, a glossary, and an extensive resource list to supplement the plant descriptions, making it the ultimate resource to the edible and medicinal aspects of wild plants of the upper Midwest.

Author information

Matthew Alfs is a clinical herbalist, educator, consultant, and founder of the Midwest Herbs & Healing clinic and the Midwest School of Herbal Studies. A prolific author and journalist, he has written articles for such journals as Medical Herbalism, Journal of the American Herbalists Guild, and Herb Quarterly. He is also the author of the book 300 Herbs: Their Indications & Contraindications, as well as a 1500-page curriculum in herbalism for the Midwest School of Herbal Studies.

Reviews and news

Grow It, Minnesota Podcast

Praise for previous editions:

"Of great value to the beginner as well as the advanced wild-plant student, not only in that it provides an in-depth discussion of each wild plant, but also because it instills in the minds of all who read it the fact that we should know more about what we eat.”
Edelene Wood, president, National Wild Foods Association

“A truly impressive compendium of information and lore about the art of foraging. … User-friendly introductions to using wild plants for food and health benefits are written in clear, concise text easily accessible to the lay reader. A glossary, exhaustive list of references and comprehensive index round out this superbly presented and very highly recommended guide.”
Midwest Book Review

“This book accomplishes its purpose and more. It is not just a reference to sit on the shelf; it belongs on the table for frequent use and consultation where other references are lacking. … More than a foraging manual, a field guide, or a materia medica, Edible & Medicinal Wild Plants of the Midwest is a multipurpose book … covering scientific studies, ethnobotany, nutrition, and more. … With such a large number and variety of references employed, this is a versatile plant guide not to be missed.”
Abby Artemisia, botanist, herbalist, professional forager, HerbalGram: The Journal of the American Botanical Council

For each plant, Alfs reviews ethnobotanical and folk uses, professional medical uses by the physician-herbalists of the past, scientific information that may be available, anecdotes from his own clinical experience, and information on gathering for food or medicine. … If you are interested in exploring the uses of any of these plants, this book will save you hours of homework.”
Paul Bergner, editor, Medical Herbalism: A Journal for the Clinical Practitioner

“Where the average person sees garden weeds, … Alfs finds nutritional and medicinal possibilities. … He offers practical advice (and beautiful color photos) to help you recognize and use the plants that most of us ignore or overlook.”
Judy Woodward, Twin Cities Daily Planet



  • 384 pages
  • 175 color photos, glossary, notes, index, appendixes, tables, bibliography
  • 8.5 x 11 inches
  • ISBN: 9781681341750

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