four great herbal books for happy holidays and beyond

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If you’re a plant geek looking for some last-minute holiday gifts — or if you are looking for some last-minute holiday gifts for a plant geek — here is one of my opinionated lists.

It’s always tricky coming up with bests lists — the choices are so subjective and subject to change. But it’s the biggest gift-giving time of the year and I want to share my favorites with you.

With those caveats, here are my top picks for 2021.


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for the newbie or the foodie

Spice Apothecary by Bevin Clare.

This book is great for folks who aren’t into herbs yet — or for foodies, or for geeks. It’s a great starting point for falling in love with plants as partners in health.

Buy the book here.

if you missed hanukah

Ashkenazi Herbalism by Deatra Cohen and Adam Siegel.

Did you miss Hanukah this year? Are you looking for a great book for an Ashkenazi herbal geek? More of a historical account than modern treatment guide, this book is a deep investigation into the largely lost herbal traditions of Ashkenazi Jews.

[N.b. Not all Jews are Ashkenazi. If you don’t know, ask. Jews of different traditions may still be interested in this work.]

Buy the book here or here.

the nearly everything reference book

The Essential Guide to Western Botanical Medicine by Christa Sinadinos

Northern California herbalist Christa Sinadinos has written what may be the most comprehensive single volume reference to Western herbal medicine. It’s gorgeous, heavy and has pretty much every commonly available plant medicine you’re likely to look for.

Here’s an Instagram live review I did with herbalist Julie James.

Buy the book directly from the author here.

for the practitioner or serious student

Herbal Formularies for Health Professionals (volumes. 1-5) by Dr. Jillian Stansbury

This series is a full-on herbal education, as well as a go-to guide for anyone who recommends herbs regularly.

Click the links on individual volumes above to buy them.


Looking for other ideas? Find more of my book reviews here. See loads of books I like at my Bookshop shop. And I stand by all the recommendations in this post about healthy holiday presents from a few years ago.

Wishing you all the health and joy this December-holiday season.


— Dr. Orna