You do not need to cross an ocean to discover a region with rich ethnobotanical history.
Chinese Herbs in Appalachia An NPR broadcast about growing Chinese medicinal Herbs in Appalachia.
Practical Plants A collaborated encyclopedia of practical plant uses.
USDA Ethnobotany Information
Useful Plant Materials
Hill, Albert F. Economic Botany: A Textbook of Useful Plants and Plant Products. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1952. p. 18-51.
Layton, Ron. "Cordage in North America." Primitive Ways, 2006. Web.
This article by Ron Layton describes the history of cordage in North America and the plants commonly used to create it. Cordage is essentially another word for rope. This essay starts with describing the drawbacks of animal sinews and gut in reference to water immersion, as in the case with fish nets, and the relative difficulty and scarcity of animal parts used to make cordage. This leads the reader to the abundance and accessibility of plant fibers for cordage. While large game are scarce in many areas of the US, cordage plants grow in almost every corner.
The different part of plants and trees that cordage comes from is overviews starting with root bark and covering inner bark, leaves, grasses, reeds, and stalks. He ends by giving an extensive list of North American cordage plants which is useful for any primitive skills enthusiast or ethnobotanist studying textiles or rope in North America. The only thing missing from this work is a description of how to produce and make cordage, as well as more information about what peoples in North America used what plants.
Law, Rachel Nash, and Cynthia W. Taylor. Appalachian White Oak Basketmaking: Handing Down the Basket. Knoxville: University of Tennessee, 1991.
Prindle, Tara. "Native Tech: Native American Cordage." Native Tech, 1994. Web. 05 Nov. 2015.
Ronald L., Jones, and Wofford B. Eugene. "Appendix IV: Woody Plants Useful For Cordage." Woody Plants of Kentucky and Tennessee : The Complete Winter Guide to Their Identification and Use." 129. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2013. Project MUSE. Web. 5 Nov. 2015.
Ryan, Philippa. "Plants As Material Culture In The Near Eastern Neolithic: Perspectives From The Silica Skeleton Artifactual Remains At Çatalhöyük." Journal Of Anthropological Archaeology (2010): ScienceDirect. Web.
Tor, Myking, Hertzberg Anja, and Skrøppa Tore. "History, Manufacture And Properties Of Lime Bast Cordage In Northern Europe." Forestry: An International Journal Of Forest Research 78.1 (2005): 65-71. Environment Complete. Web.
"What Is PFAF?" Plants For A Future : 7000 Edible, Medicinal & Useful Plants. Web. http://www.pfaf.org
Williams, Marc Nicolaas. A Compendium Of Appalachian Multi-Purpose Plant Information : A Thesis. n.p.: 2009.
General Appalachian Ethnobotany:
Amjad, Hassan. Folk Medicine Of Appalachia : A Vanishing Tradition. n.p.: [Beckley, W. Va. : A. Hassan?, 2005?], 2005. Library Catalog. Web. 18 Nov. 2015.
Amjad, Hassan. Life & Thymes Of An Appalachian Herbalist. n.p.: [West Virginia? : H. Amjan, 2005?], 2005.Library Catalog. Web. 18 Nov. 2015.
Baird, Nancy Disher. Healing Kentucky: Medicine in the Bluegrass State [adult reader]. New Books for New Readers series. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. 2007.
Bennett, Kathleen, Andrew Pengelly, and Amanda Vickers. "Pipsissewa." Journal Of The American Herbalists Guild 10.2 (2011): 7-11 5p. CINAHL Complete. Web. 18 Nov. 2015.
Bolyard, Judith L. Medicinal Plants and Home Remedies of Appalachia. Springfield, IL: Thomas, 1981.
Cavender, Anthony. 2005. “A Midwife’s Commonplace Book.” Appalachian Journal 32, no. 2 (Winter): 182-190.
Cavender, Anthony P. Folk Medicine in Southern Appalachia. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina, 2003.
Anthony Cavender has done much for the field of Appalachian Studies as well as the study of Appalachian folk medicine. His works are diverse in their scope and detailed in their executions. This book is a compendium of Appalachian folk medicine that goes beyond the uses of plants and into the history, philosophy and development of this body of folk knowledge. His sources are diverse and thorough, spanning from archives to interviews the author performed.
His attitude is made clear throughout the work that he feels the need to “other” Appalachia and view it as isolated must end. However, he seems to have difficulty supporting the statement beyond asserting it often. This does not detract from the excellent work he has created, which is extremely useful to the study of folklore, folk healers and folk medicine. The introduction is fitting, as it outlines the research done on Appalachian folk medicine to date, and offers helpful criticism. The charts included in the work are very useful and the way in which the book is organized is practical. This book is critical when researching the folk uses of plants in Appalachia, and its bibliography is enviable.
Cavender, Anthony, and Steve Crowder. “White-Livered Widders and Bad-Blooded Men: Folk Illness and Sexual Disorder in Southern Appalachia.” Journal of the History of Sexuality 11 (October).2002. p. 637-649.
Cavender, Anthony, Vivian Gonzales Gladson, Jorja Cummings, and Michele Hammet. “Curanderismo in Appalachia: The Use of Remedios Caseros among Latinos in Northeastern Tennessee.” Journal of Appalachian Studies 17, no. 1-2 (Spring-Fall). 2011.p. 144-167.
This journal article covers a fascinating topic in folk healing. It examines both the ways in which plants, animal substances and prepared materials are used in Latino home remedies or remedios caseros and the similarities between the Appalachian materia medica and that of Latino immigrants to the region. This study was carried out by interviewing 72 Latino residents in northeastern Tennessee. It examines not only the substance used, but also the adaptations of the Latino medicinal lexicon to the Appalachian methods of their new home in a less familiar environment than many Latinos experience elsewhere in the nation.
All of the authors are competent in Spanish, an interesting fact to note, making this, in my opinion, a very useful study in that many of the interviewees were not bilingual. There was an alarming amount of home remedies reports, a staggering 1,193. The charts provided are excellent and useful in their use of both Spanish and English substance names, the uses, the parts of the substance used and the ailments that they rectify. Comparative studies like this one are important to the field of Ethnobotany in that they draw out the similarities between two seemingly very different cultures. They can serve as ways to draw together two cultures who can often be at odds with one another by recognizing that a fundamental folk practice is so similar in both peoples.
These similarities also go deeper into history, showing the mixing of Old and New world medical practices before colonization of America as well as showing the ethnicity-transcending ability of popular media and its views on medical applications. As Latinos and Appalachians bend their insular communities in the future, the authors hope that they will see more similarities, rather than differences between their beliefs and practices, at least as far as folk medicine is concerned. This study is an excellent example of the interdisciplinary nature of Ethnobotany, and in its relevance to creating a more unified, harmonious global community by finding common ground in the quest for healing.
Cavender, Anthony. "Local Unorthodox Healers Of Cancer In The Appalachian South." Journal Of Community Health 5 (1996): 359.
Chase, Nan. 2004. “Ray Hicks: The Mysterious Healer” [legendary storyteller is also a faith healer; warts]. Appalachian Heritage 32 (Spring): 38-45.
Cozzo, David. "Beyond Tall Tales: Ray Hicks and Mountain Herbalism." Appalachian Journal 30.4 (2003): 284-301. JSTOR. Web. 04 Nov. 2015.
Cozzo, David N. Herb Gatherers and Root Diggers of North Western North Carolina. Thesis (M.A.)-- Appalachian State University. 1999.
Crellin John K. and Jane Philpott. Herbal Medicine Past and Present. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. in 2 vols. 1989. (See v. 1, Trying to Give Ease .)
Felton, Tom. “A Life Well Spent: ‘Doc Pete’ of Parsons” [Tucker Co.]. Goldenseal: West Virginia Traditional Life 34, no. 3 (Fall): 40-45. Dr. Guy H. Michael, Jr., fourth-generation physician; b. 1925. 2008.
Gainer, Patrick W. “Folk Cures.” In Witches, Ghosts, and Signs: Folklore of the Southern Appalachians, comp. P. Gainer, 100-111. 2nd ed. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press. 2008.
Hand, Wayland Debs. Magical Medicine: The Folkloric Component of Medicine in the Folk Belief, Custom, and Ritual of the Peoples of Europe and America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980.
Hatter, Ila. Wild Edibles & Medicinals Of Southern Appalachia. [Videorecording]. n.p.: Robbinsville, NC : Ironweed Productions, c2001., 2000.
Hunter, Lacy. Foxfire 11 The Old Homeplace Wild Plant Uses Preserving And Cooking Food Hunting Stories Fishing And More Affairs Of Plain Living. n.p.: Anchor Books, 1999. Children's Literature Comprehensive Database. Web.
Jones, Loyal. Faith and Meaning in the Southern Uplands. Urbana: University of Illinois Press., 1999.
Kirkland, James. Herbal and Magical Medicine: Traditional Healing Today. Durham: Duke UP, 1992. Print.
Lopes, Danielle, Joan Moser, and Annie Louise Perkinson. Appalachian Folk Medicine : Native Plants And Healing Traditions. n.p.: [Asheville, N.C. : Warren Wilson College Press], 1996., 1996. Library Catalog. Web. 18 Nov. 2015.
Milnes, Gerald. Signs, Cures, & Witchery: German Appalachian Folklore. Knoxville: U of Tennessee, 2007. Print.
Germans have often been left out of the story of Appalachian culture. This book examines the contributions of Old World German religious and folk belief to historical and modern Appalachian culture. The unique occult and spiritual beliefs that German immigrants brought with them had a profound effect on Appalachian folklore, and can still be seen today. Planting by the signs, astrology and numerology were just a few of the practices adopted into Appalachian folkways. Many works have been done about the Celtic peoples and their roles in creating Appalachian folklore, but this book stands as a well researched, scholarly look into how German immigrants played a great role in the formation of Appalachian folklore and culture as we know it today.
While many of these chapters are not useful to the study of Ethnobotany, Chapters 12 and 13, as well as 18 and 19 contain various mentions of plants used for healing as well as magic. Chapter 12 focuses on Folk Medicine, and the German contributions to it. It is littered with excerpts from interviews taken by the author in West Virginia which provide a sort of authenticity to the cures described. Chapter 13, on Granny Women, offers a look at the often forgotten women healers of Appalachia who were well versed in healing with plants. This book is excellent for focused research on German contributions to Appalachian folk medicine, as well as a reading on witch and witchcraft beliefs in Appalachia.
Parker, Maggie Hammons. 2010. “Hammons Family Remedies” [23 herbal remedies]. Old-Time Herald 12, no. 4 (April-May): 31. Used by the family of this Pocahontas Co., W.Va. ballad singer. http://oldtimeherald.org/archive/back_issues/index.html.
Price, Edward T. "Root Digging In The Appalachians: The Geography Of Botanical Drugs." Baseball, Barns and Bluegrass: A Geography of American Folklife. 242-262. New York, NY: Rowman & Littlefield, 1998. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 22 Oct. 2015.
Rago, Linda Ours. Blackberry Cove Herbal: Healing with Common Herbs in the Appalachian Wise-Woman Tradition. Sterling, Va.: Capital Books. 2000.
Ramey, Crystal, and Jenna Davis. 1998. “Healing the Natural Way” [interview with Ga. herbalist Charles Thurmond]. Foxfire Magazine 32 (Spring/Summer): 47-51.
Schultz, Katey. 2007. “Mountains of Tea” [Western N.C. herbalist, Joe Hollis; Chinese botanical garden]. Now and Then: The Appalachian Magazine 23, no. 2 (Fall/Winter): 20-23.
Smoot, Richard C. 1995. “Medical History Notes From Appalachia.” Appalachian Heritage 23 (Fall): 21-28.
Timah, Nga Joseph. Comparison of the Cultural, Taxonomic, and Ecological Aspects of Medicinal Plants in Cameroon and North Carolina: Causes of Rarity and Potential Solutions. Thesis (M.S.)-- Appalachian State University. 52 leaves, map
Thomas, James G., and Charles Reagan Wilson, ed. 2012. Science & Medicine, Vol. 22 of The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. 281 pp. Thirty-eight essays and 46 shorter entries written by experts, including: Folk Medicine | Healers, Women | Health, Rural | Poverty, Effects of | Faith Healing | Frontier Nursing Service | HIV/AIDS | Medicine Shows.
Wigginton, Eliot. The Foxfire Book: Hog Dressing; Log Cabin Building; Mountain Crafts and Foods; Planting by the Signs; Snake Lore, Hunting Tales, Faith Healing; Moonshining; and Other Affairs of Plain Living. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1972. Print.
Encyclopedias and Dictionaries:
Brunvand, Jan Harold. American Folklore: An Encyclopedia. N.p.: Hamden, CT: Garland, 1996.
Cavender, Anthony. A Folk Medical Lexicon of South Central Appalachia. Johnson City, TN: History of Medicine Society of Appalachia, James H. Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State U, 1990.
Krochmal, Arnold, Russell S. Walters, and Richard M. Doughty. A Guide to Medicinal Plants of Appalachia. Washington: U.S. Forest Service, 1971.
Rinzler, Carol Ann. Dictionary of Medical Folklore. New York: Crowell, 1979.