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Economic Botany: Useful Plants and Products

Tracer Bullet 12-1

Graphic: botanical painting of a cassava plant,  branch, leaves, bloomss and seeds.
Cassava Plant. Cassava, the source for tapioca, Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) is the "third most important source of calories in the tropics, after rice and maize." (


This guide offers a systematic approach to the wide variety of published materials on the use of plants by people. Economic plants are defined as being useful either directly, as in food, or indirectly, as products we use or that enhance the environment. Plants are essential to life on earth; they produce the oxygen we breathe through photosynthesis and provide much of the food we eat. Some species provide medicines and promote healing, others are used for insect control or to conserve water. Plants with dense root systems prevent soil erosion and those with brightly colored flowers attract pollinators. Plants have been used to control body functions and fertility, to poison, and to make clothing, paper, and rubber. The guide includes references to materials on food plants, fiber plants, dye plants, edible plants, medicinal plants, oilseed plants, as well as plants used in ceremonies, cultivated for commercial purposes, or used as shelter.

This title complements other titles in the LC Science Tracer Bullet series, e.g., Ethnobotany of the Americas (TB 97-1), Sustainable Agriculture (TB 03-2), Medicinal Plants (TB 04-2), Green Roofs (TB 06-1), Edible Wild Plants (TB 07-4), Biomass Energy (TB 08-8), and Food History (TB 10-5). Not meant to be a comprehensive bibliography, this guide is designed--as the name of the series implies--to put the reader “on target.”



Lewington, Anna. Plants for people. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 232 p.
   SB107.L48 1990 <SciRR>

Weiner, Michael A. Man’s useful plants. New York, Macmillan, c1976. 146 p.
   Bibliography: p. 139-140.

Wickens, G. E. What is economic botany? Economic botany, v. 44, Jan./Mar. 1990: 12-28.
   SB1.E3 and Pamphlet box <SciRR>



SUBJECT HEADINGS used by the Library of Congress, under which books on useful plants can be located in most card, book and online catalogs, include the following:

Highly Relevant



   See also specific plants, e.g., “Cotton,” “Hemp”FOOD CROPS
  See also individual fruits, e.g., “Apples,” “Berries” FUNGI
See also names of nuts, e.g., “Chestnut,” “Pecan”
   See also names of specific plants, e.g., “Jojoba,” “Olive,” “ Peanuts”
   See also specific types of trees, e.g., “Fruit Trees,” “Citrus,” “Rubber Plants,” or specific species, e.g., “Cinchona,” “Cacao,” “ Bamboo”
   See also individual vegetables and groups of vegetables, e.g, “Broccoli,” “Onions” Related/More General
The Cultural history of plants. Ghillean Prance, consulting editor; Mark Nesbitt, scientific editor. New York, Routledge, 2005. 452 p.
   Bibliography: p. 433.
   SB71.C86 2005 <SciRR>

Eating and healing: traditional food as medicine. Andrea Pieroni, Lisa Leimar Price, editors. New York, Food Products Press, c2006. 406 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   RS164.E26 2006 <SciRR>

Edible: an illustrated guide to the world’s food plants. Washington, National Geographic, c2008. 360 p.
   QK98.5.A1E35 2008 <SciRR>

Henry, Robert J. Plant resources for food, fuel, and conservation. London, Sterling, VA, Earthscan, 2010. 182 p.    Bibliography: p. 163-174
   SB107.H46 2010

Photo:  people up to their waists in water upon which floats a thick cover of bright red cranberries.
Cranberry Harvest Photo: USDA Website.

Hvass, Else. Economic plants. 2nd imp. London, Blandford P., 1966. 2 v. (204 p.)
   Contents: pt. 1. Plants that feed us.-- pt. 2. Plants that serve us.
   SB107.H8213 1966

Newton, John. The roots of civilisation: plants that changed the world. Millers Point, N.S.W., Pier 9, 2009. 271 p.
   Bibliography: p. 262-265.
   SB107.N49 2009 <SciRR>

Non-timber forest products: medicinal herbs, fungi, edible fruits and nuts, and other natural products from the forest. Marla. R. Emery, Rebecca J. McLain, editors. New York, Food Products Press, c2001. 176 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   SD543.3.U6N66 2001<SciRR>

Saunders, Charles Francis. Useful and edible wild plants of North America. Toronto, Tutor Press, 1978. 275 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   QK98.5.N57S28 1978

Simpson, Beryl Brintnall, and Molly Conner Ogorzaly. Economic botany: plants in our world. 3rd. ed. Boston, McGraw-Hill, c2001. 529 p.
   Bibliography: p. 479-485.
   SB108.U5S56 2001 <SciRR>

Sumner, Judith. American household botany: a history of useful plants, 1620-1900. Portland, OR, Timber Press, 2004. 396 p.
   Bibliography: p. 367-374.
   SB108.U5S85 2004 <SciRR>



Algae: nutrition, pollution control and energy sources. Kristian N. Hagen, editor. New York, Nova Science Publishers, c2009. 323 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   QK564.A44 2009

Firn, Richard. Nature’s chemicals: the natural products that shaped our world. Oxford, New York, Oxford University Press, 2010. 250 p.
   Bibliography: p. 219-237.
   QK99.A1F565 2010

Hobhouse, Henry. Seeds of change: six plants that transformed mankind. Washington, Shoemaker & Hoard; Berkeley, CA, distributed by Publishers Group West, 2005. 381 p.
   Originally published, NewYork, Harper & Row, c1986.
   Bibliography: p. 364-368.
   SB71.H63 2005

Hobhouse, Henry. Seeds of wealth: five plants that made men rich. Emeryville, CA, Shoemaker & Hoard, c2005. 313 p.
    “Including a new chapter on coffee.”
   Bibliography: p. 301-305.
   SB71.H64 2005

Laws, Bill. Fifty plants that changed the course of history. Buffalo, NY, Firefly Books, 2010. 223 p.
   Bibliography: p. 218-219.
   SB71.L39 2010 <SciRR>

Levetin, Estelle, and Karen McMahon. Plants and society. 6th ed. New York, McGraw-Hill, 2011. 526 p.
   QK47.L48 2011 <SciRR>
   Provides lists of websites and questions for thinking critically.

Lost crops of the Incas: little-known plants of the Andes with promise for worldwide cultivation. Report of an ad hoc panel of the Advisory Committee on Technology Innovation, Board on Science and Technology for International Development, National Research Council. Washington, National Academy Press, 1989. 415 p.
   Bibliography: p. 327-342.
   F3429.3.A4L67 1989

Morton, Julia Frances. Fruits of warm climates. Edited by Curtis F. Dowling, Jr. Miami, FL, J. F. Morton; Winterville, NC, distributed by Creative Resource Systems, c1987. 505 p.
   Bibliography: p. 446-483.
   SB359.M76 1987 <SciRR>

Plant science: growth, development, and utilization of cultivated plants. Edited by Margaret J. McMahon, Anton M. Kofranek, Vincent E. Rubatzky. 5th ed. Boston, Prentice Hall, c2011. 674 p.
   Rev. ed. of Hartmann’s plant science, 2007.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   SB91.P56 2011 In process

Rogers, Kara. Out of nature: why drugs from plants matter to the future of humanity. Tucson, University of Arizona Press, 2012. 204 p.
   Bibliography: p. 189-197.
   RS160.R64 2012 <SciRR>




Buxton, Richard H. How to convert wood into charcoal & electricity. Bradley, IL, Lindsay Publications Inc., c2003. 63 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   TP324.B93 2003

Gupta, Ram B., and Ayhan Demirbas. Gasoline, diesel, and ethanol biofuels from grasses and plants. New York, Cambridge University Press, 2010. 230 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   TP248.27.P55G87 2010

Honary, Lou A. T., and Erwin Richter. Biobased lubricants and greases: technology and products. Hoboken, NJ, Wiley, 2011. 216 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   TP359.V44H66 2011

Jatropha curcas as a premier biofuel: cost, growing and management. Claude Ponterio and Costanza Ferra, editors. New York, Nova Science Publishers, c2010. 196 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   TP248.27.P55J38 2010

Thomas, Dirk. The woodburner’s companion: practical ways of heating with wood. Chambersburg, PA, Alan C. Hood, c2000. 129 p.
   Bibliography: p. 123.
   TH7437.T46 2000

Dye Plants


Buchanan, Rita. A weaver’s garden: growing plants for natural dyes and fibers. Mineola, NY, Dover Publications, 1999. 228 p.
   Originally published, Loveland, CO, Interweave Press, c1987.
   Includes bibliographical references
   TT848.B83 1999

Burgess, Rebecca. Harvesting color: how to find plants and make natural dyes. New York, Artisan, c2011. 180 p.
   TT854.3.B87 2011

Lambert, Eva, and Tracy Kendall. The complete guide to natural dyeing: techniques and recipes for dyeing fabrics, yarns, and fibers at home. Loveland, CO, Interweave Press, c2010. 143 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   TT854.3.L35 2010

 Photo: a block of dark blue dye, bound with a crosshatching of string.
Piece of indigo plant dye,from India. Indigo is used to produce blue colors, primarily in textiles. Photo by Evan Izer.
McRae, Bobbi A. Colors from nature: growing, collecting, and using natural dyes. Pownal, VT, Storey Communications, c1993. 160 p.
   Bibliography: p. 150.
   TT854.3.M38 1993

Rice, Miriam C. Mushrooms for dyes, paper, pigments & Myco-Stix. Forestville, CA, Mushrooms for Color Press, c2007. 162 p.
   Bibliography: p. 151-154.
   TT854.3.R523 2007

Richards, Lynne, and Ronald J. Tyrl. Dyes from American native plants: a practical guide. Portland, OR, Timber Press, c2005. 339 p.
   Bibliography: p. 321-323.
   TP897.R53 2005 <SciRR>

Todd, Carol. Earth tones: colors from western dye plants. Creston, CA, Rowland Press, c1995. 171 p.
   TT854.3.T63 1995

Van Stralen, Trudy. Indigo, madder & marigold: a portfolio of colors from natural dyes. Loveland, CO, Interweave Press, c1993. 127 p.
   Bibliography: p. 126.
   TT854.3.V36 1992

Environmental Plants

Berg, Linda R. Introductory botany: plants, people, and the environment. 2nd ed. Belmont, CA, Thomson Brooks/Cole, c2008. 622 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   QK47.B48 2008 <SciRR>

Bowe, Alice. High-impact, low-carbon gardening: 1001 ways to garden sustainably. Portland, OR, Timber Press, c2011. 263 p.
   Bibliography: p. 241-254.
   S494.5.S86B69 2011

Petit, Jack, Debra L. Bassert, and Cheryl Kollin. Building greener neighborhoods: trees as part of the plan. 2nd ed. Washington, American Forests, Home Builders Press, c1998. 117 p.
   Bibliography: p. 115-117.
   SB435.5.P48 1998

Snodgrass, Edmund C., and Lucie L. Snodgrass. Green roof plants: a resource and planting guide. Portland, OR, Timber Press, 2006. 203 p.
   Bibliography: p. 191-195.
   SB419.5.S66 2006 <SciRR>

Steiner, Lynn M., and Robert W. Domm. Rain gardens: sustainable landscaping for a beautiful yard and a healthy world. Minneapolis, MN, Voyageur Press, 2012. 192 p.
   Bibliography: p. 187.
   TD657.4.S74 2012 <SciRR>

Tallamy, Douglas W. Bringing nature home: how you can sustain wildlife with native plants. Updated and expanded pbk. ed. Portland, OR, Timber Press, 2009. 358 p.
   Bibliography: p. 331-340.
   SB439.T275 2009

Fiber Plants

Bell, Lilian A. Plant fibers for papermaking. 6th rev. ed. McMinnville, OR, Liliaceae Press, 1990. 132 p.
   Bibliography: p. 121-124.
   TS1109.B44 1990

Bourrie, Mark. Hemp: a short history of the most misunderstood plant and its uses and abuses. Buffalo, NY, Firefly Books, 2003. 160 p.
   Bibliography: p. 153.
   SB255.B68 2003

Cotton fibers: developmental biology, quality improvement, and textile processing. Amarjit S. Basra, editor. New York, Food Products Press, c1999. 387 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   SB249.C688 1999

Farmer, Justin F. Basketry plants used by western American Indians: a study of traditional North American Indian basketry and plant materials used to create them with photos showing characteristics of major plant materials used by basket makers. Fullerton, CA, Justin Farmer Foundation, 2010. 205 p.
   Bibliography: p. 191-205.
   E98.B3F37 2010

Flax: the genus Linum. Edited by Alister D. Muir and Neil D. Westcott. London, New York, Routledge, 2003. 307 p. (Medicinal and aromatic plants--industrial profiles, v. 34)
   Includes bibliographical references.
   SB253.F58 2003 <SciRR>

Hidalgo López, Oscar. Bamboo: the gift of the gods. Bogotá, O. Hidalgo-López, c2003. 553 p.
   Bibliography: p. 537-545.
   SB317.B2H53 2003 <SciRR>

Hiebert, Helen. Papermaking with garden plants & common weeds. North Adams, MA, Storey Pub., c2006. 107 p.
   Previous ed. published under title Papermaking with plants. Pownal, VT, Storey Books, c1998.
   Bibliography: p. 102.
   TS1124.5.H534 2006

Miscanthus for energy and fibre. Edited by Michael B. Jones and Mary Walsh. London, James & James, c2001. 192 p.
   Bibliography: p. 179-188.
   SB288.M57 2001

Food and Beverage Plants

Evolution of crop plants. Edited by J. Smartt and N. W. Simmonds. 2nd ed. Harlow, Essex, Eng., Longman Scientific and Technical; New York, Wiley, 1995. 531 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   SB106.O74E96 1995 <SciRR>

Facciola, Stephen. Cornucopia II: a source book of edible plants. Vista, CA, Kampong Publications, 1998. 713 p.
   Bibliography: p. 631-649.
   SB175.F332 1998 <SciRR>

Fern, Ken. Plants for a future: edible & useful plants for a healthier world. 2nd ed. Hampshire, UK, Permanent Publications; White River Junction, VT, distributed in the USA by Chelsea Green Pub. Co., 2000. 300 p.
   Bibliography: p. 267-273.
   QK98.5.A1F47 2000

Luttinger, Nina, and Gregory Dicum. The coffee book: anatomy of an industry from crop to the last drop. Rev. and updated. New York, New Press; distributed by W. W. Norton, c2006. 232 p.
   Rev ed. of The coffee book, by Gregory Dicum and Nina Luttinger, c1999.
   Bibliography: p. 212-224.
   HD9919.A2D53 2006 <SciRR>

Tea: cultivation to consumption. Edited by K. C. Willson and M. N. Clifford. London, New York, Chapman & Hall, 1992. 769 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   SB271.T27 1992 <SciRR>

Van Wyk, Ben-Erik. Food plants of the world: an illustrated guide. Portland, OR, Timber Press, 2005. 480 p.
   Bibliography: p. 446-447.
   QK98.5.A1V36 2005 <SciRR>

Vaughan, J. G. (John Griffith), and C. A. Geissler. The new Oxford book of food plants. Oxford, New York, Oxford University Press, 2009. 249 p.
   Rev. and updated ed. of The Oxford book of food plants, 1969.
   Bibliography: p. 237-238.
   SB175.V38 2009 <SciRR>

Young, Allen M. The chocolate tree: a natural history of cacao. Rev. and expanded ed. Gainesville, University Press of Florida, c2007. 218 p.
   Bibliography: p. 195-208.
   SB268.C35Y68 2007

Geographical Distribution: Other Countries

Booth, F. E. M. (Frances E. M.), and G. E. Wickens. Non-timber uses of selected arid zone trees and shrubs in Africa. Rome, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1988. 176 p. (FAO conservation guide, 19)
   Includes bibliographical references.
   SB171.A35B66 1988

Castner, James L., Stephen L. Timme, and James A. Duke. A field guide to medicinal and useful plants of the Upper Amazon. Gainesville, FL, Feline Press, c1998. 154 p.
   Bibliography: p. 135-140.
   QK99.A432C37 1998 <SciRR>

Kumar, Sudhir. Non-conventional legumes and useful plants of North East India. Jodhpur, Scientific Publishers, c2008. 125 p.
   Bibliography: p. 124-125.
   QK495.L52K86 2008

Popenoe, Wilson. Economic fruit-bearing plants of Ecuador. Washington, Govt. Print. Off., 1924. 53 p. (Smithsonian Institution. U.S. National Museum. Contributions from the U.S. National Herbarium, v. 24, pt. 5)

Van Wyk, Ben-Erik, and Nigel Gericke. People’s plants: a guide to useful plants of Southern Africa. Pretoria, Briza Publications, 2000. 351 p.
   Includes bibliographical references
   QK98.4.A356V36 2000

Geographical Distribution: United States

Cheatham, Scooter, and others. The useful wild plants of Texas, the southeastern and southwestern United States, the southern plains, and northern Mexico. Austin, TX, Useful Wild Plants, c1995- 1 v.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   QK98.4.U6C48 1995

Hussey, Jane Strickland. Some useful plants of early New England. Marion, MA, The Channings, c1976. 99 p.
   Bibliography: p. 93-99.

Larsen, Wesley P. A folio of Indian and pioneer medicinal and food plants. Toquerville, UT, W. P. Larsen, 2001. 99 p.
   Bibliography: p. 98-99.
   E78.W5L37 2001

Silverman, Maida. A city herbal: a guide to the lore, legend and usefulness of 34 plants that grow wild in the city. New York, Knopf; distributed by Random House, 1977. 181 p.
   Bibliography: p. 173-175.
   QK83.S58 1977

Sweet, Muriel. Common edible and useful plants of the East and Midwest. Healdsburg, CA, Naturegraph Publishers, 1975. 79 p.

Yetman, David. 50 common edible & useful plants of the Southwest. Tucson, AZ, Western National Parks Association, c2009. 1 v. (unpaged)
   Includes bibliographical references.
   QK98.5.S685Y37 2009

Medicinal and Healing Plants

Aloes: the genus Aloe. Edited by Tom Reynolds. Boca Raton, FL, CRC Press, c2004. 386 p. (Medicinal and aromatic plants--industrial profiles, v. 38)
   Includes bibliographical references.
   SB295.A45A58 2004 <SciRR>

Anticancer agents from natural products. Edited by Gordon M. Cragg, David G. I. Kingston, and David J. Newman. 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL, CRC Press, c2012. 751 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   RS431.A64A562 2012 <SciRR>

Applequist, Wendy. The identification of medicinal plants: a handbook of the morphology of botanicals in commerce. St. Louis, Missouri Botanical Garden; Austin, TX, American Botanical Council, 2006. 209 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   QK99.A1A67 2006 <SciRR>

Bioactive compounds from natural sources: natural products as lead compounds in drug discovery. Edited by Corrado Tringali. 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL, CRC, Press, c2012. 622 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   RS160.B55 2012

Herbal drugs: ethnomedicine to modern medicine. K. G. Ramawat, ed. Berlin, Springer, c2009. 402 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   RM666.H33H462 2009

Johnson, Rebecca L., and others. National Geographic guide to medicinal herbs: the world’s most effective healing plants. Washington, National Geographic, 2010. 383 p.
   RM666.H33J644 2010 <SciRR>

Novel therapeutic agents from plants. Editors, María Cecilia Carpinella, Mahendra Rai. Enfield, NH, Science Publishers, c2009. 478 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   RS164.N68 2009

Pritts, Kim D. (Kim Derek). Ginseng: how to find, grow, and use North America’s forest gold. 2nd ed., rev. and updated. Mechanicsburg, PA, Stackpole Books, c2010. 159 p.
   Bibliography: p. 155.
   SB295.G5P75 2010

Scott, Timothy Lee. Invasive plant medicine: the ecological benefits and healing abilities of invasives. Rochester, VT, Healing Arts Press, c2010. 348 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   SB613.5.S36 2010

Mushrooms and Other Fungi

Boa, E. R. Wild edible fungi: a global overview of their use and importance to people. Rome, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2004. 147 p. (Non-wood forest products, 17)
   Bibliography: p. 71-88.
   QK617.B713 2004

Chang, S. T. (Shu-ting), and Philip G. Miles. Mushrooms: cultivation, nutritional value, medicinal effect, and environmental impact. 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL, CRC Press, 2004. 451 p.
   Rev. ed. of Edible mushrooms and their cultivation. 1989.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   SB353.C455 2004 <SciRR>

Hall, Ian R. (Ian Robert), Gordon T. Brown, and Alessandra Zambonelli. Taming the truffle: the history, lore, and science of the ultimate mushroom. Portland, OR, Timber Press, 2007. 304 p.
   Bibliography: p. 254-295.
   SB353.5.T78H344 2007

Lincoff, Gary. The complete mushroom hunter: an illustrated guide to finding, harvesting, and enjoying wild mushrooms. Beverly, MA, Quarry Books, c2010. 192 p.
   Bibliography: p. 188.
   QK617.L5245 2010 <SciRR>

Mushrooms in forests and woodlands: resource management, values, and local livelihoods. Edited by Anthony B. Cunningham and Xuefei Yang. London, Washington, Earthscan, 2011. 217 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   QK617.M819 2011

Stamets, Paul. Mycelium running: how mushrooms can help save the world. Berkeley, CA, Ten Speed Press, c2005. 339 p.
   Bibliography: p. 307-324.
   QK601.S73 2005

Oil Plants

Modern coconut management: palm cultivation and products. Edited by Johan G. Ohler. London, Intermediate Technology Publications, 1999. 458 p.
   Bibliography: p. 409-448.
   SB401.C6M635 1999

Oil palm: cultivation, production and dietary components. Susan A. Penna, editor. Hauppauge, NY, Nova Science Publishers, 2011. 238 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   TP684.P3O35 2011

Sesame: the genus Sesamum. Editor, Dorothea Bedigan. Boca Raton, FL, CRC Press, 2011. 532 p. (Medicinal and aromatic plants--industrial profiles, v. 48)
   Includes bibliographical references.
   SB299.S4S434 2011 Not yet in LC

Therios, Ioannis Nikolaos. Olives. Wallingford, UK, Cambridge, MA, CABI, c2009. 409 p. (Crop production science in horticulture, 18)
   Bibliography: p. 357-398.
   SB367.T44 2009 <SciRR>

Weiss, E. A. Oilseed crops. 2nd ed. Oxford, Malden, MA, Blackwell Science, 2000. 364 p.
   Bibliography: p. 337-354.
   SB298.W44 2000 <SciRR>

Wisniak, Jaime. The chemistry and technology of jojoba oil. Champaign, IL, American Oil Chemists’ Society, c1987. 272 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   TP684.J64 1987

Seeds and Spice Plants

Coulter, Lynn. Gardening with heirloom seeds: tried-and-true flowers, fruits, and vegetables for a new generation. Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, c2006. 316 p.
   Bibliography: p. 303-306.
   SB117.C74 2006 <SciRR>

CRC handbook of medicinal spices. James A. Duke and others. Boca Raton, FL, CRC Press, c2003. 348 p.
   Bibliography: p. 329-339.
   RS164.C826 2003 <SciRR>

The Encyclopedia of seeds: science, technology and uses. Edited by Michael Black, J. Derek Bewley, Peter Halmer. Wallingford, UK, Cambridge, MA, CABI, c2006. 828 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   SB117.E46 2006 <SciRR>

Green, Aliza. Field guide to herbs & spices: how to identify, select, and use virtually every seasoning at the market. Philadelphia, Quirk Books, c2006. 313 p.
   Bibliography: p. 309-310.
   TX819.H4G73 2006

Hill, Tony. The spice lover’s guide to herbs & spices. Hoboken, NJ, Wiley & Sons, c2004. 422 p.
   Bibliography: p. 402-403.
   TX819.H4H55 2004 <SciRR>

Norman, Jill. Herbs & spices. New York, DK Pub., c2002. 363 p.
   Bibliography: p. 326-327.
   TX406.N679 2002 <SciRR>

Seidemann, Johannes. World spice plants. Berlin, Springer, c2005. 591 p.
   Bibliography: p. 407-502.
   SB305.S45 2005 <SciRR>

Turner, Jack. Spice: the history of a temptation. New York, Knopf, c2004. 352 p.
   Bibliography: p. 311-334.
   TX406.T87 2004

Weiss, E. A. Spice crops. Wallingford, UK, New York, CABI Pub., c2002. 411 p.
   Bibliography: p. 367-388.
   SB305.W45 2002 <SciRR>

Selected Titles for Younger Readers

Frisch, Rose E. Plants that feed the world. Princeton, NJ, Van Nostrand, 1966. 104 p.

Morgan, Sally. How we use plants for medicine and health. New York, Rosen Pub. Group’s PowerKids Press, 2009. 32 p.
   RS164.M634 2009

Pope, Joyce. Practical plants. New York, Facts on File, 1990. 62 p.
   Bibliography: p. 62.
   SB102.P66 1990

Powledge, Fred. Pharmacy in the forest: how medicines are found in the natural world. New York, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, c1998. 47 p.
   RS160.P69 1998

Schaeffer, Elizabeth. Dandelion, pokeweed, and goosefoot: how the early settlers used plants for food, medicine, and in the home. Reading, MA, Young Scott Books, 1972. 94 p.
   Bibliography: p. 90-91.
   QK98.4.U6S3 1972



African seed enterprises: sowing the seeds of food security. Edited by Paul Van Mele, Jeffery W. Bentley, Robert G. Guéi. Cambridge, MA, Published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the African Rice Center by arrangement with CAB International, 2011. 236 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   HD9019.S432A353 2011

Anderson, Edgar. Plants, man and life. Mineola, NY, Dover Publications, 2005. 251 p.
   Originally published, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1967.
   Bibliography: p. 235-240.
   SB107.5.A5 2005

Bee pollination in agricultural ecosystems. Edited by Rosalind R. James and Theresa L. Pitts-Singer. Oxford, New York, Oxford University Press, 2008. 232 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   QK926.B34 2008 <SciRR>

Buchmann, Stephen L., and Gary Paul Nabhan. The forgotten pollinators. Foreword by Edward O. Wilson. Washington, Island Press for Shearwater Books, c1996. 292 p.
   Bibliography: p. 225-240.
   QK926.B835 1996

Finlay, Mark R. Growing American rubber: strategic plants and the politics of national security. New Brunswick, NJ, Rutgers University Press, c2009. 317 p.
   Bibliography: p. 237-306.
   HD9161.U52F56 2009

Standage, Tom. A history of the world in six glasses. New York, Walker & Co.; distributed to the trade by Holtzbrinck Publishers, 2005. 311 p.
   Bibliography: p. 291-299.
   GT2880.S83 2005

Standage, Tom. An edible history of humanity. New York, Walker & Co., 2009. 269 p.
   Bibliography: p. 249-257.
   GT2850.S73 2009

Westhoff, Patrick C. (Patrick Charles). The economics of food: how feeding and fueling the planet affects food prices. Upper Saddle River, NJ, FT Press, 2010. 247 p.
   Bibliography: p. 215-232.
   HD9000.4.W47 2010

Zuckerman, Larry. The potato: how the humble spud rescued the western world. Boston, Faber and Faber, c1998. 304 p.
   Bibliography: p. 295-304.
   SB211.P8Z83 1998



Elsevier’s dictionary of pests and diseases in useful plants: in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Dutch, and Latin. Compiled by Ernest Eylenbosch. Amsterdam, NY, Elsevier, 1995. 487 p.
   SB600.E4 1995 <SciRR Dict>

Encyclopedia of biotechnology in agriculture and food. Edited by Dennis R. Heldman, Matthew B. Wheeler, Dallas G. Hoover. Boca Raton, FL, CRC Press, 2011. 746 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   S494.5.B563E53 2011 <SciRR>

The Encyclopedia of fruit & nuts. Edited by Jules Janick and Robert E. Paull. Wallingford, UK, Cambridge, MA, CABI North American Office, c2008. 954 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   SB359.E56 2008 <SciRR>

Encyclopedia of plant and crop science. Edited by Robert M. Goodman. New York, M. Dekker, c2004. 1329 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   SB45.E486 2004 <SciRR>

Essential oils: desk reference. 4th ed. Orem, UT, Essential Science Pub., c2007. 558 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   Bibliography: p. 476-480.
   RM666.A68E84 2007

Handbook of legumes of world economic importance. Edited by James A. Duke. New York, Plenum Press, c1981. 345 p.
   Bibliography: p. 341-345.

Handbook of natural colorants. Edited by Thomas Bechtold and Rita Mussak. Chichester, UK, Wiley, c2009. 412 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   TP919.B43 2009

Hocking, George Macdonald. A dictionary of natural products: terms in the field of pharmacognosy relating to natural medicinal and pharmaceutical materials and the plants, animals, and minerals from which they are derived. 2nd ed. Medford, NJ, Plexus Pub., c1997. 994 p.
   Rev. and updated ed. of Dictionary of terms in pharmacognosy ... 1995.
   Bibliography: p. 891-970.
   QK99.H69 1997 <SciRR Dict>

Porcher, Francis Peyre. Resources of the southern fields and forests, medical, economical, and agricultural: being also a medical botany of the Confederate States, with practical information on the useful properties of the trees, plants and shrubs. Reprinted with a biographical introduction by Ira M. Rutkow. San Francisco, Norman Pub., 1991. 601 p. (The American Civil War medical series, 4)
   Originally published, Charleston, Evans & Cogswell, 1863.
   Bibliography: p. 1-4.
   SB108.U6S76 1991

Tucker, Arthur O., and Thomas DeBaggio. The encyclopedia of herbs: a comprehensive reference to herbs of flavor and fragrance. New ed. Portland, OR, Timber Press, 2009. 609 p.
   Earlier edition published as The big book of herbs, c2000.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   SB351.H5T777 2009 <SciRR>



Joint Conference of the Society for Economic Botany and the International Society for Ethnopharmacology (1996, London, England). Plants for food and medicine: proceedings of the joint conference of the Society for Economic Botany and the International Society for Ethnopharmacology, London, 1-6 July 1996. Editors, N. L. Etkin and others. Kew, Royal Botanic Gardens, 1998. 438 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   SB107.J65 1996

Medicinal plants: their role in health and biodiversity. Edited by Timothy R. Tomlinson and Olayiwola Akerele. Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998. 221 p.
   “Proceedings of an international symposium cosponsored by the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania and the World Health Organization, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 1993.”
   Includes bibliographical references.
   RS164.M373 1998

National Symposium NEW CROPS: New Opportunities, New Technologies (3rd, 1995, Indianapolis, Ind.) Progress in new crops. Edited by Jules Janick. Alexandria, VA, ASHS Press, c1996. 660 p.
   “Proceedings of the third National Symposium NEW CROPS--New Opportunities, New Technologies.”
   Includes bibliographical references.
   SB160.N38 1995

Society for Economic Botany (U.S.). Meeting (1986, New York Botanical Garden). The palm--tree of life: biology, utilization, and conservation: proceedings of a symposium at the 1986 Annual Meeting of the Society of Economic Botany held at the New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York, 13-14 June 1986. Bronx, New York Botanical Garden, 1988. 282 p. (Advances in economic botany, v. 6)
   Includes bibliographical references.
   SB317.P3S65 1986



Dissertations can be identified by using online resources or the following indexes located in the Main Reading Room. Consult any reference librarian about options. Some dissertations may be available in full text through electronic resources on public terminals in the Library of Congress.

Comprehensive Dissertation Index, 1861-1972.
   Z5053.X47 1973

Comprehensive Dissertation Index. Supplement. (1973- 2009?)

Dissertation Abstracts International. (1938- 1999?)

Proquest Dissertations & Theses(1861-)
   <Electronic format>



Horton, Elizabeth Temple. The ties that bind: fabric traditions and fiber use in the Ozark Plateau. Ann Arbor, MI, UMI, 2010.
   UMI publication number AAT 3419969
   Collation of the original: 596 p.
   Thesis (doctoral)--Washington University in St. Louis.

Hurlbert, Dana Price. Population ecology and economic botany of Echinacea angustifolia, a native prairie medicinal plant. Ann Arbor, MI, UMI, 1999.
   UMI publication number ATT 9970592
   Collation of the original: 155 p.
   Thesis (doctoral)--University of Kansas.

Tucker Lima, Joanna Marie. Ecology of native oil-producing palms and their potential for biofuel production in southwestern Amazonia. Ann Arbor, MI, UMI, 2010.
   UMI publication number ATT 3467775
   Collation of the original: 142 p.
   Thesis (doctoral)--University of Florida.



Abstracting and indexing that index relevant journal articles and other periodical literature, conference papers and proceedings, book reviews, government reports and other literature are listed below. For the current status and availability of any of the electronic format resources listed go to For more information consult a reference librarian

Agricola (1800-)
   <Electronic format>

ArticleFirst (1990-)
   <Electronic format>

Biological & Agricultural Index (1916-)
   Z7913.I7 <SciRR A&I> & <Electronic format>

Environment Complete (1950-)
   <Electronic format>

Environmental Sciences & Pollution Management (1967-)
   <Electronic format>

Garden, Landscape, & Horticultural Index (1990-)
   <Electronic format>

JSTOR (1850-)
   <Electronic format>

Proquest Databases (various dates)
   <Electronic format>

Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature (1900- )
   A13.R48 <BusRR> and <Electronic Format>



Journals that often contain relevant articles include the following:

Biodiversity and Conservation QH75.A1B513
Botanical Review QK1.B335
Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition TP368.C46
Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences QK1.C77
Curtis’s Botanical Magazine QK1.K46
Ecology of Food and Nutrition TX341.E26
Economic Botany
HortScience SB317.5.H675
International Journal of Plant Sciences (continues Botanical Gazette) QK1.B3
Journal of Herbs, Spices & Medicinal Plants SB351.H5J68
Journal of Industrial Hemp SB255.J68
Journal of Natural Products (continues Lloydia) QH1.L94
Journal of Sustainable Agriculture S494.5.S86J68



Arora, David, and Glenn H. Shepard, Jr. Mushrooms and economic botany. Economic botany, v. 62, Nov. 2008: 207-212. SB1.E3

Butterworth, Kara M., and others. Initiation and early development of fiber in wild and cultivated cotton. International journal of plant sciences, v. 170, June 2009: 561-574.

Eshun, Kojo, and He, Qian. Aloe vera: a valuable ingredient for the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries--a review. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, v. 44, no. 2, 2004: 91-96.

Hartl, Anna, and Christian R. Vogl. The potential use of organically grown dye plants in the organic textiles industry: experiences and results on cultivation and yields of Dyer’s Chamomile (Anthemis tinctoria L.), Dyer’s Knotweed (Polygonum tinctorium Ait.), and Weld (Reseda luteola L.) Journal of sustainable agriculture, v. 23, issue 2, 2003: 17-40.
   Bibliography: p. 37-40.

Kintzios, Spiridon. Terrestrial plant-derived anticancer agents and plant species used in anticancer research. Critical reviews in plant sciences, v. 25, no. 2, 2006: 79-113.
   QK1.C77 and Pamphlet box <SciRR>

McCoy, Mark D., Michael W. Graves, and Gail Murakami. Introduction of breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) to the Hawaiian Islands. Economic botany, v. 64, Dec. 2010: 374-381.

Nair, K R. Prabhakaran. The agronomy and economy of some important industrial crops. Advances in agronomy, v. 101, 2009: 183-313.

Weathers, Pamela, Melissa J. Towler, and Jianfeng Xu. Batch to batch: advances in plant cell culture for producing useful products. Applied microbiology and biotechnology, v. 85, Feb. 2010: 1339-1351.



Selected materials available in the Science Reading Room pamphlet boxes include the following:

El, Sedef N., and Sibel Karakaya. Olive tree (Olea europeaea) leaves: potential beneficial effects on human health. Nutrition reviews, v. 67, Nov. 2009: 632-638.

Emery, Marla R., and Elizabeth S. Barron. Using local ecological knowledge to assess morel decline in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region. Economic botany, v. 64, Sept. 2010: 205-216.

Grace, Olwen M., and others. Documented utility and biocultural value of Aloe L. (Asphodelaceae): a review. Economic botany, v. 63, June 2009: 167-178.

Gram, Søren, Lars Peter Kvist, and Armando Cáseres. The economic importance of products extracted from Amazonian flood plain forests. Ambio, v. 30, Sept. 2001: 365-368.

Heiser, Charles B. Edgar Anderson, botanist and curator of useful plants. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, v. 82, no. 1, 1995: 54-60.

Pilon-Smits, Elizabeth A. H., and John L. Freeman. Environmental cleanup using plants: biotechnological advances and ecological considerations. Frontiers in ecology and the environment, v. 4, May 2006: 203-210.

Smith, M. K. Trees and their economic importance. Botanical review, v. 69, Oct./Dec. 2003: 321-376.

Stafford, Lindsay. Using essential oils against drug-resistant bacteria: new treatment possibilities for a global health priority. HerbalGram, v. 88, Nov. 2010/Jan. 2011: 32-45.

Wambugu, P. W., and D. O. Nyamongo. Seed dormancy and germination testing protocol for various economically useful plant species in the Amaranthaceae family. Journal of new seeds, v. 11, issue 4, 2010: 412-421.



Herb Society of America
9019 Kirtland Chardon Road
Willoughby, OH 44094
Telephone: 440-256-0514

Lloyd Library and Museum
917 Plum Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Telephone: 513-721-3707

New York Botanical Garden
2900 Southern Boulevard
Bronx, NY 10458-5126
Telephone: 718-817-8700

Society for Economic Botany
c/o Botanical Society of America
4475 Castleman Avenue
Saint Louis, MO 63110-3201
Telephone: 314-577-9566
Fax: 314-577-9515

The Internet offers a growing number of sites helpful in the study of economic botany, food plants, fiber plants, medicinal plants, forage plants, etc. Several of the organizations listed above provide links to related sites from their web sites. You might try the sites described below, or use your favorite search engine and appropriate key words to identify more specific resources. You could also use your favorite search engine to find additional sites.

Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC), USDA
Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center (BHNRC), USDA

These centers have teamed up to provide databases for medicinal plants, herbs & spices and phytochemicals.

Center for New Crops & Plant Products
Online since 1995, NewCROP is a project of the Purdue University Center for New Crops and Plant Products and is associated with the New Crop Diversification project and the Jefferson Institute. Lists reference tools, conferences, experts, maps, and the Famine Foods database, etc.

Kew Gardens: Databases & Publications
Resources include Kew’s collection databases, plant name resources, world checklists, Kew scientists and other Kew publications.

Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder
Look up, view a photo and read about the over 5,400 plants by scientific name, common name and/or selected plant characteristics.

PLANTS Database from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service
Provides standardized information about the vascular plants, mosses, liverworts, hornwart, and lichens of the U.S. and its territories.

Location Codes for Items in the Library of Congress Reference Collections
<BusRR> Business Reference Services
<Electronic format> Subscription databases available onsite only (Check your library for availability)
<SciRR> Science Reading Room
<SciRR A&I> Science Reading Room abstracting and indexing collection
<SciRR Dict> Science Reading Room dictionary collection
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