The Top 20 Best-Selling Titles… #15

15. Edible Wild Plants of the Prairie: An Ethnobotanical Guide by Kelly Kindscher

Besides sunflower seeds, what wild plants can you eat? Kelly Kindscher’s 1987 Edible Wild Plants of the Prairie will tell you because it describes the 120 plants that were once used as food by Indigenous peoples and early settlers of the prairie.

Kindscher explains the importance of learning about this early part of history and indigenous culture: “I learned, and am learning more as I work on a new edition, of the depth of use of our native prairie plants by Native peoples. It is even more important to acknowledge the traditional knowledge of Native Americans.”

These plants were not simply used as a snack like many of us today might think; rather, they were substantial parts of everyday meals. As white settlers came to North America, they changed the idea of which plants were acceptable as part of a meal as well as the ecology of the prairie. Kindscher has tried every plant written about in his book, however, the plant he finds most interesting would be “Groundnuts or wild potatoes [to] (Apios americana), for which Topeka is named, and which translates in the Kaw (Kansa) language as ‘a good place to grow potatoes.’ This wild bean plant has tasty tubers like starchy potatoes almost as big as golf balls.”

In his book Kindscher seeks to educate others on the variety of plants that have been lost to our diet and the environment. “My favorite part is finding new clues in the historical literature as to plants that were used. An unusual account, or depth in uses, or recipes related to use—all excite me.”

By writing about the edible flora of the American prairie, Kelly Kindscher provided the first edible plant book devoted to the region that Walt Whitman called “North America’s characteristic landscape” and Willa Cather called “the floor of the sky.” In describing how plants were used for food, Kindscher has drawn upon information concerning tribes that inhabited the prairie bioregion. As a consequence, his book serves as a handy compendium for readers seeking to learn more about the historical uses of plants by Native Americans.

By writing about the edible flora of the American prairie Kelly Kindscher provided the first edible plant book devoted to the region that Walt Whitman called “North America’s characteristic landscape” and the Willa Cather called “the floor of the sky.” In describing how plants were used for food, he has drawn upon information concerning tribes that inhabited the prairie bioregion. As a consequence, his book served as a handy compendium for readers seeking to learn more about the historical uses of plants by Native Americans.

20. The Philippine War, 1899-1902 by Brian McAllister Linn

19. The Sable Arm by Dudley Cornish

18. Haunted Kansas: Ghost Stories and Other Eerie Tales by Lisa Hefner Heitz

17. More True Tales of Old-Time Kansas by David Dary

16. The Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers, and the Rush to Colorado