One of my favorite books in the entire world is "Weeds of the North Central States". I have an exceptionally long commute and 65 mph weed identification is something more than a pastime.

However, the most it says about the use of the plants is, "not good for forage". And I'm not particularly interested in forage, nor is it within the scope of this website. What I'd like is a good complete resource for the identification of beneficial 'weeds'.

I have to restrict this question to the Midwest, but if there was a twenty volume tome which had a little section on the Midwest, that'd be great too.

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    @Peter Turner, have you tried your Local University Extension Office or Botanical Gardens site, as they usually have resources to identify such things in your specific area?
    – Mike Perry
    Aug 11, 2011 at 20:48
  • @Mike, I'd really like something I can take into my back yard, I'm not interested in knowing about a particular plant as much as I'd like to be able to identify every imaginable plant. Aug 11, 2011 at 20:52
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    @Peter Turner, what I meant by, "... as they usually have resources to identify such things...", they normally have online resources that can be used for identification eg I use my smart phone in the garden to access such resources to help me on the go. Was just an idea, suggestion...
    – Mike Perry
    Aug 11, 2011 at 21:06
  • Take a look here: Weed identification resources -- the book you reference in your question is listed there, along with others...
    – Mike Perry
    Sep 23, 2011 at 1:31

1 Answer 1


I do not have personal experience with any of these books, for which I apologize.

This pdf describes edible plants of the midwest, as well as giving three suggestions for books to find. I suspect that 'edible' doesn't cover your entire question, but it seems like it'd be better than nothing. I'll keep looking.

Edible Wild Plants, Peterson Field Guide Series, by Lee Allen Peterson, Houghton Mifflin Company. Great Identification book. Color pictures.

Wild Edibles of Missouri, by Jan Phillips, The Missouri Department of Conservation. Well written reference material. Black and white sketches of plants.

Wild Foods Field Guide and Cookbook, by Billy Joe Tatum, Workman Publishing Company. Contains plant descriptions and 350 recipes.

It may or may not help to be aware of "Wildman" Steve Brill. He's from New York, so may only know about eastern plants. There is also an iphone app.

Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Great Lakes Region may be what you are looking for.

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