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The Identification of Medicinal Plants
A Handbook of the Morphology of Botanicals in Commerce

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The first step in quality control of botanical preparations is ensuring the correct identify of the plant intended for use. While there are several methods for identification, the simplest, most direct, and least expensive is macroscopic identification. This manual describes morphological characteristics that can be observed with a hand lens or dissecting microscope, as well as organoleptic characteristics (e.g., color, taste, mouth feel, and odor) that are useful for confirming plant identity. By focusing on botanicals in commerce, providing more macromorphology than other recent works, offering more information on potential adulterants, and employing the simplest language possible, this information necessary for proper botanical identification is accessible to a wider audience.

Written by Wendy Applequist, PhD, a botanist at the Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG), the handbook is intended to provide widespread access to the information required for the accurate identification of medicinal plants. This will ensure availability to a wider group of quality control and laboratory technicians in the herb and dietary supplement industry, as well as botanists, medicinal plant collectors, researchers, students, and others.

This book features 113 botanical entries covering more than 150 different species of botanicals in commerce, plus 87 detailed black-and-white line drawings. It also contains a brief review of basic plant structure, some practical advice on identification, an introduction to botanical nomenclature, a glossary, a reference list, and an index.


Book Details

Author: Wendy Applequist
Publisher: American Botanical Council (October 2006)
Hardcover, 231 pp, 87 B&W line art figures
ISBN 13: 978-0-9655555-1-7
ISBN 10: 0-9655555-1-8
List price: $89.95; 20% discount for ABC members



“The macroscopic examination of botanicals is a fundamental tool in the quality assessment of raw botanical ingredients that is underutilized in the herbal products industry and is a critical component of identity in most pharmacopoeias. This text is an important tool in bringing these much needed skills back to the forefront of botanical quality control.”

Roy Upton
Executive Director
American Herbal Pharmacopoeia

“Great book. Good science. Good art, Very useful book.”

James A. Duke
Author of
The Green Pharmacy and
The CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs, 2nd ed.

“As a collector of books and articles on powder analysis and the nomenclature of medicinal plants, this book is a good accompaniment that pulls together information from a wide number of sources. Great job and a great addition to my bookshelf!”

Arthur O, Tucker, PhD
Research Professor & Co-Director
Claude E. Phillips Herbarium
Delaware State University

“Wendy Applequist’s The Identification of Medicinal Plants will certainly be a useful handbook for our Quality Control laboratory technicians to utilize as an authoritative reference and supplement to the official pharmacopoeial monographs that we presently use for botanical raw materials test and release. The botanical glossary, the detailed macroscopic descriptions including sensory characteristics, and the illustrations will make this an often-used handbook sitting alongside the pharmacopoeias and other essential laboratory handbooks.”

Josef A. Brinckmann
VP of Research and Development
Traditional Medicinals

“As an amateur botanist, this book is indispensable to anyone who loves plants, and herbs in particular and wants to know that they have the correct species. As a Quality Control professional interested in having as complete a picture as possible for accurate identification of herbs, this book is a necessity. I can hardly wait for the next volume to be written and published.”

Sidney Sudberg, DC, LAc, RH (AHG)
Alkemists Pharamaceuticals, Inc.