Wednesday, February 6, 2013

REVIEW: Backyard Foraging by Ellen Zachos


You don't need to trek into the forest to forage edible plants. Ideal for first-time foragers, this book features 70 edible weeds, flowers, mushrooms, and ornamental plants typically found in urban or suburban neighborhoods. You'll be amazed by how many of the plants you see each day are actually nutritious edibles. Full-color photographs make identification easy, and tips on where certain plants are likely to be found, how to avoid pollution and pesticides, and how to recognize the plants you should NEVER harvest make foraging as safe and simple as stepping into your own backyard.

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC (March 26, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1612120091

About the Author
from Amazon

Ellen Zachos leads foraging walks and currently teaches at the New York Botanical Garden, where she received her certification in Commercial Horticulture and Ethnobotany. She writes two blogs, which can be found at and and has written numerous gardening books and contributed to publications including Horticulture and Better Homes & Gardens.

My Thoughts

I am forever interested in ethnobotany ("The scientific study of the traditional knowledge and customs of a people concerning plants and their medical, religious, and other uses"), and this book gives a glimpse into that world. Filled with beautiful pictures, it teaches you about plants that are commonly found on vacant lots, parks and even in your own backyard.

It is filled with little bits of information, like the fact that any berry with a five-pointed crown on the top is safe to eat (think of a blueberry). It teaches you how to look for plants based on your surroundings (are you on a mowed lawn? by a stream or lake? in a wooded area?) It tells you how to use those treasures that you find...
Grate a few magnolia buds for an unusual spice and leave the rest to flower in your garden.
The tart leaves of oxeye daisy make an excellent salad green.
...and the nutritional benefits (Purslane is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids). It is chock full of little bits of information you probably didn't know, like the fact that while tomatoes are a beloved fruit, the tomato plant itself is poisonous.

The book lists each plant individually, with a handy key at the top that indicates what season to look for it. It tells you what it is, where to find it, how to harvest it, what parts are edible, and how to eat it.

The back of the book has some recipes, and my favorite part is the fact this book is absolutely filled with beautiful photography.

My final word: The greatest honor I can bestow on an ARC (advanced reader's copy) that I read is the desire to buy the book and add it to my "permanent shelf". This book has made it into that prized category. If you are interested in learning about edible plants that could be found in your neighborhood or your own backyard, grab this book!

Pre-order Now:


My Rating:


I received a copy of this book to review through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. The e-book that I received was an uncorrected proof, and quotes mentioned here could differ in the finished copy.

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