Book ID: 104720
Messages from the Gods: Guide to the Useful Plants of Belize. 2014. 639 col. figs. 539 p. Hardcover.
Despite its small size, Belize is one of the most ecologically diversenations in Central America. 3,408 species of plants can be found here, within six different ecological life zones. Because of this, Belize is paradise for ecotourists, hosting over 300,000 plant enthusiasts and scientists annually. Many of the plants of Belize have a long history of being "useful," with healing properties that have served traditional herbal healers of the region as well as modern medicinal applications. With Messages from the Gods: A Guide to the Useful Plants of Belize, Drs. Mike Balick and Rosita Arvigo give us the definitive resource on the many species of plants in Belize and their uses, as well as the natural history of the region and a detailed discussion of bush medicine and traditional healing. Both Balick and Arvigo bring important perspectives to the project, Balick as botanical scientist from the New York Botanical Garden, and Arvigo as a former apprentice to a Belizean healer and an experienced physician. The book has been decades in the making, a culmination of a biodiversity research project that the New York Botanical Garden has had in motion since 1987. Dr. Balick and his colleagues have collected and identified thousands of plants from the region, and have worked extensively with hundreds of Belizean natives, many of them herbal healers, to discover uses for each species. This collaboration with local plant experts has produced fascinating discussion of the intersection of herbalmedicine and religion in the area, and these interviews are usedto compliment and contextualize the numerous species accounts presented. The book is both a cultural study and a specialized field guide; each species account contains not only identifying traits of the plant, but also the various uses that both traditional healers and modern doctors have found for it as well. Richly illustrated with over 600 images and photographs, Messages from the Gods will serve as the primary reference and guide to the ethnobotany of Belize for many years to come.