NON-FICTION : “Plants of Love: The History of Aphrodisiacs, and A Guide to Their Identification and Use“, by Christian Ratsch, 1997 10 Speed Press, ISBN 089815-928-8 $19.95 (US)
CONTENT: Christian Ratsch has done it again with his wonderfully illustrated guide to yet another aspect of all things herbal. He pulls together the appropriate amounts of history, monographs including pictures that would help someone identify the plant in the wild. There are over a thousand plants that through history have been or are still being used as aphrodisiacs, and Ratsch rarely shies away from the frank discussion of any of them. He presents the information both interesting and shares enough knowledge to be of interest to the layperson, the Witch, as well as the scholar or the practising herbalist.
As far as books on the topic of Aphrodisiacs and their uses, Ratsch does the best job of any that I have seen. Far too many either get into debunking as to why these plants have been or are still useful, or they throw alot of urban legend into the mix without qualifying the information. Such practices cause plants (and even some animals) to be used in the process of trying to induce an erotic state or increase virility or fertility; some to the point of endangerment. Thankfully Ratsch is very conscious of this problem.
There are recipes for infusions, ointments, incenses and brews that are sure to entice. I was disappointed that Nymphaea caerulea or Blue “Lotus” (which is actually a blue water lily) was not included. I have tinctured and worked with this plant extensively and was very surprised, especially with its symbology and history that there was no discussion of it. There is a small bit of information about Nelumbo nucifera or ‘true’ Lotus, which is native to India and Asia that was very inclusive – as were most of all of the other entries.
RATING: B+ My only disappointment is that there is not even more in this book. There is a frank and extended discussion of even more plants in his latest book, including the ones that I was disappointed not seeing in this one, “Psychoactive Plants” which I am currently reading and will most probably be reviewing next. I definitely recommend “Plants of Love” as a great addition to any herbal library, however.