Cons: hard to source quotes
The book has 15 chapters including the introduction: Medieval Vegetables; Medieval Fruits & Nuts; Grains; Plants & Medicine; Symbolism and superstition; Magical & Mysterious; Love, Seduction & Beauty; Childbirth, Babies & Nursemaids; Clothing, Laundry & other Household Tips; Dyes, Inks & Paints; Animal Health Care; Harvesting & Preserving Plant Material; Fun things to do; Plant Lists. It would be impossible to give a full accounting of the uses of plants in the middle ages in such a short book. The author does an admirable job of giving a lot of information in such a condensed format. I was impressed with how many plants he dealt with in even the shorter chapters, with lots of tidbits of folklore added in. Medicine gets the longest chapter as it goes over specific ailments and what plants were used to treat them.
The book has a lot of half page and full page colour photographs of plants and some manuscript illuminations. These are used to good advantage when explaining how certain plants were used based on their looks (like a photo of henbane next to its use in curing toothache as the seed cases resemble teeth on a jawbone). The rose sepal photo really helps explain a poem used in the symbolism and superstition chapter.
There are a number of recipes included, though the author does advise against using some, especially in the medical section.
The chapter on fun things to do shows several ways to make flower crowns and a few simple reed instruments.
I loved learning about plants I’ve never heard of, including several vegetables that are no longer widely cultivated as the easier to grow and cook potatoes have taken their place. It was also interesting learning how medieval people may have dealt with things like chapped lips or dying hair. Another fun tip was to chew licorice for a clear voice, the way Roman orators did.
There’s a bibliography at the end of the book but no citations or notes in the text explaining what source specific information is from.
This is an easy to read guide on medieval plants including a lot of great information.