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Plants of Love: The History of Aphrodisiacs and A Guide to Their Identification and Use by Christian Ratsh

1997; 205 pp. $19.95. Ten Speed Press.

Books on aphrodisiacs are, in general, plagued by three recurring problems: a lack of science, uninspired scholarship, and, oddly, dullness. As scientific knowledge of the subject is in its infancy, even the most technically oriented books do little to mitigate the first problem. Ratsch's Plants of Love, refreshingly, does a great deal to alleviate the latter two complaints.

For one, this is a coffee-table book, patterned after Shultes's and Hofmann's beautiful Plants of the Gods, and is filled with pictures. The botanical lore is up-to-date, comprehensive, and often enough dangerous. Ratsch inclines to the "get-close-to-your-subject" school of ethnobotany, and his enthusiasm is often evident. In addition to the history, mythology, and chemistry of over one hundred plants, the good professor has included several dozen recipes for teas, tinctures, baths, ointments, pills, incenses, snuffs, and enemas. That many of the ingredients are illegal in the United States is certainly an annoyance, but in no way detracts from the value or usefulness of the book.

 

ISBN: 0898159288

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