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Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification

Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification 



  • Thomas J. Elpel


  • Paperback: 221 pages
  • Publisher: HOPS Press, LLC; 5th edition (January 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 1892784157
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.46 pounds


Book Description

Looking for a faster, easier, and fun way to identify plants? Botany in a Day teaches you the patterns method of plant identification, so that you can discover the wonderful world of plants around you, wherever you go.

From the Author

Many people are familiar with the square stems and opposite leaves of the plants in the Mint Family. I like to start my classes with a discussion of the the mints because this pattern is so well known. What people don’t realize is that similar patterns exist for other families of plants as well. You only need to learn about 100 broad patterns to recognize something about virtually every plant from coast to coast across the northern latitdudes.

In a two hour plant walk we typically start with the Mint Family, then progress through the Mustard, Pea, Parsley, Borage, Lily, and Aster Families, so that every student can easily recognize these common families representing several thousand species.

I’ve had people tell me they learned more in that two hour walk than in an entire semester of botany in college. 

From the Inside Flap

Botany in a Day is changing the way people learn about plants! Tom’s book has gained a nationwide audience almost exclusively by word-of-mouth. It is now used as a text and recommended by herbal and wilderness schools across North America. Instead of presenting individual plants, Botany in a Day unveils the patterns of identification and uses among related plants, giving readers simple tools to rapidly unlock the mysteries of the new species they encounter throughout the continent.

Too often people try to learn plants one-at-a-time, without rhyme or reason. Now you can cut years off the process of learning about plants and their uses. Tom’s book helps you beyond the piece-meal approach to botany and herbalism towards a more "whole" approach. Within 1 1/2 hours you can understand the big-picture of botany and herbalism. Learn how related plants have similar features for identification. Discover how they often have similar properties and similar uses.

Tom’s book takes you beyond the details towards a greater understanding of the patterns among plants. By mid-morning you can be in the field, matching flowers to the patterns in the book. Instead of learning plants one-at-a-time you will discover that you can learn them by the dozens–just by looking for patterns.

Most plant books cover only one or two hundred species. Botany in a Day includes more than 100 plant families and over 700 genera–applicable to many thousands of species.

By the end of the day you will have a functional knowledge of botany. You will be able to continue growing your knowledge of plants and plant patterns–in the wild, in your garden, among house plants, even at the florist. Understand the magic of patterns among plants, and the world will never look the same again! 

About the Author(s)

Thomas J. Elpel had the rare opportunity as a child to spend hundreds of hours with his grandmother Josie Jewett. Together they explored the hills and meadows near Virginia City, Montana, collecting herbs, looking for arrowheads and watching wildlife. Grandma Josie helped Tom to learn about native plants and their uses, igniting a passion for nature that has inspired him ever since. She also sparked his interest in survival skills.

"All I ever wanted to do as a kid was to go to Grandma’s house," Tom said. "When she moved from Virginia City to Pony, I followed her. Renee and I eventually bought land just a couple blocks from her place."

At the age of 16, Tom went on a 26-day, 250-mile walkabout in the desert canyons of southern Utah with Boulder Outdoor Survival School . The following year he and Grandma Josie went together to Tom Brown’s Tracker School in New Jersey.

Tom spent thousands of hours practicing and developing survival skills in his "backyard" in the Rocky Mountains.

He is now the director of Hollowtop Outdoor Primitive School, LLC in Pony, Montana. Botany in a Day grew from Tom’s desire to provide an easy means for other people to discover a closer connection with the natural world. Tom is also the author of four other books inspired by nature, including: Participating in Nature, Direct Pointing to Real Wealth, Living Homes, and Shanleya’s Quest.

Instead of trying to identify plants one-at-a-time, Botany in a Day give you a way to learn them by the hundreds, based on the principle that related plants have similar patterns for indentification, and they often have similar uses.

The one-day tutorial included in the text teaches you seven key patterns to recognize more than 45,000 species of plants worldwide. Master these seven patterns and you will be ready to use the included reference guide–Thomas J. Elpel’s Herbal Field Guide to Plant Families of North America. Here you will find the patterns for indentification and the patterns of uses for the majority of plants across the continent.

Botany in a Day is used as a guide by thousands of individuals, plus herbal schools and universities across North America.


Wonderful book for intuitive understanding of the subject, April 8, 2006

In the opening chapter, this book presents a wonderful simplified story of the evolution of plants, from a single cell to modern complex flowers. Both children and adults can gain a unique, intuitive understanding of this process from this explanation. My compliments to the author. He describes each plant family with interesting anecdotes and high quality line drawings. It’s the first plant book whose lack of photographs didn’t matter. Great tips for identifying families and individual plants have helped me enormously. Bravo!