Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians


The Southern Appalachian region is the most botanically diverse of any of the world’s temperate zones. The relationship of human beings to these plants has a history rich in traditions and is the basis of modern medicine. This document is designed as an introduction to the literature about medicinal plants of the Southern Appalachian Mountains available in the Belk library, the W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection, or available through the Western North Carolina Library Network.

Introductory Text: 

Krochmal, Arnold, Russell S. Walters, and Richard M. Doughty. A Guide to Medicinal Plants of Appalachia. Washington, D.C.:USDA, 1971 ASU App Coll QK99.K696

Library of Congress Subject Headings: 

Highly Relevant:

  • Appalachians (People) – Medicine
  • Botany - Medical - United States
  • Cherokee Indians - Ethnobotany
  • Cherokee Indians - Medicine
  • Ethnobotany – Appalachian Region
  • Herbs - Therapeutic Use
  • Indians of North America – Medicine
  • Indians of North America – Ethnobotany - Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Materia Medica - Vegetable - Appalachian Region
  • Medicinal Plants - Appalachian Region
  • Traditional Medicine - Appalachian Region
  • Traditional Medicine - Appalachian Region - Southern
  • Traditional Medicine - Blue Ridge Mountains

Also Relevant:

  • Botanical Chemistry
  • Botanical Drug Industry
  • Ethnobotany - Southern States
  • Herbalists
  • Herbals
  • Herbs - Folklore
  • Materia Medica - Vegetable - North America
  • Medicinal Plants – East (United States)
  • Medicinal Plants - North America
  • Naturopathy
  • Pharmacognosy
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant – Medical – Therapeutic Use
  • Wild Plants – Edible – Appalachian Region -Southern

More General:

  • Botany - Economic
  • Medicinal Plants - Biotechnology
  • Plants – Folklore
  • Plants - Useful - North America
  • Social Medicine


  • Alternative Medicine
  • Aromatic Plants
  • Botany - Dictionary
Clipping Files Subject Headings – W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection: 
  • Botany, Medical
  • Medical Care and Medicine
  • Wildflowers and Plants
Library of Congress Call Numbers: 
  • QK 1-115
  • RS 164-173
  • GR 110-880
  • E 98-99
  • SB 87-608
  • RM 258-666
  • Z 511-5996
  • GN 1-586
  • GT 2850
  • QE 9
  • QH 75-81
  • RA 801
  • RC 81
  • TP 248

Banks, William H., Jr. Plants of the Cherokee: Medicinal, Edible, and Useful Plants of the Eastern Cherokee Indians. Gatlinburg, TN: Great Smoky Mountains Association, 2004. ASU Spec App Coll E99.C5 B278 2004

Bolgard, Judith L. Medicinal Plants and Home Remedies of Appalachia, Springfield, Ill.:Thomas,1981. ASU App Coll RS 164.B63

Cavender, Anthony P. Folk Medicine in Southern Appalachia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003. ASU Spec App Coll GR108.15 .C38 2003

Eisher-Brown, Charlotte. Medicinal and Other Uses of North American Plants: A Historical Survey with Special Reference to Eastern Indian Tribes, New York: Dover Pub., 1979. ASU App Coll GN 560.U6E751989

Howell, Patricia Kyritsi. Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians, Mountain City, GA: Botanologos Books, 2006. WNC General Collection QK99.A6 H69 2006

Guides, Encyclopedias, and Dictionaries: 

Chevallier, Andrew. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. New York: DK Pub., 1996. ASU Main Stacks RS164 .C4437 1996

Coffey, Timothy. The History and Folklore of North American Wild Flowers. Published by Author,1993. ASU Main Ref. QK 110.C561993

Crellin, J.K. A Reference Guide to Medicinal Plants: Herbal Medicine Past and Present. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997. ASU Main Stacks RS164 .C83 1997

Foster, Steven. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2000. UNCA General QK99.U6 F68 2000

Hamel, Paul B. Cherokee Plants and Their Uses: A 400 Year History. Paul Hamel and Mary U. Chiltoskey, 1975. ASU App Coll E99.C5 H224

Jellin, Jeff. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Stockton, CA: Therapeutic Research Faculty, 2005. ASU Ref Desk RM258.5 .N38 2005

Ratsch, Christian. The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and its Applications. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press, 2005. ASU Main Stacks QK99.A1 R2813 2005

Uphof, J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Lehre: J. Cramer, 1968. ASU Main Ref. QK9.U61968


Blake, S. F. and Alice C. Atwood. Geographical Guide to Floras of the World: An Annotated List with Special Reference to Useful Plants and Common Plant Names. New York, Hafner Pub. Co., 1942-63. ASU REFERENCE: Z5358 .A12 B52, in 2 vols.

Cavender, A.P. A Bibliography on Culture and Health in the Appalachian South, with Special Reference to Ethnomedical Beliefs and Practices. Johnston City, TN: East Tennessee State University, 1990. ASU Spec App Coll Z5118.M4 C38 1990z

Simon, James E., Alena F. Chadwick, and Lyle E. Craker. Herbs: An Indexed Bibliography, 1971-1980: The Scientific Literature on Selected Herbs, and Aromatic and Medicinal Plants of the Temperate Zone. Hamden, CT: Archon Books. 770 pages. ASU MAIN STACKS: Z5996 .H37 S56 1984.

Robinson, Judith and Constance Carter. Medicinal Plants. Washington, D.C.: Science Reference Section, Science and Technology Division, Library of Congress, 1991. UNCA Fed Doc LC 33.10:91-8

Abstracts and Indices: 

Academic Search Premier (1975-present) Available through ASU Databases.
Medicinal Plants
Materia medica, Vegetable
Traditional Medicine

AGRICOLA. (1979-present) Available through ASU Databases.
Medicinal plants – Appalachian Region
Traditional medicine – Appalachian Region, Southern
Materia medica – Appalachian Region, Southern

NetLibrary (e-books) Available through ASU Databases.
Medicinal plants--Encyclopedias.
Herbs--Therapeutic use.
Materia medica, Vegetable

WorldCat (Available thorough ASU database.)
Medicinal Plants
Materia medica, Vegetable
Medicine, Herbal
Traditional medicine
Folklore -- Medicina

BioMed Central (
GEOBASE (Available thorough ASU database.)
HerbMedPro (
ScienceDirect (Available thorough ASU database.)
JSTOR (Available thorough ASU database.)


Phytomedicine : International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology. Stuttgart; New York:G. Fischer, c1994- Full Text available 2002- Current through AcademicOneFile at ASU.

Journal of Ethnopharmacology. New York, NY : Elsevier Science Pub. Co. ASU Web Access v.45 1995- Current Subscription

Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. BioMed Central ASU Web Access through Academic OneFile 2007-Current Subscription and BioMed Central (Open Access) 2005 – Current

Journal of Medicinal Food. Larchmont, NY: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. ASU Web Access v.3 n.2 June 2000- Current Subscription

Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Larchmont, NY]: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Full text available 1998-2003 in Academic Search Premier at ASU.

Cavender, A. “Folk Medical Uses of Plant Foods in Southern Appalachia.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, November 2006, 108 (1): 74-84. Available through ASU Journal Database

Crellin J. “American Medical Botany (Boston, 1817-1820).” Bulletin of the History of Medicine [serial online]. Winter 2005, 79(4):818-819. Available through ASU Journal Database.

Audio and Video Sources: 

Catfish: Man of the Woods. Appalshop, 1975. Videocassette App Spec Coll Video VC 18

Wild Edibles & Medicinals of Southern Appalachia, Video 1, Autumn Series. Robbinsville, NC: Ironweed Productions, 2001. App Spec Coll Video VC 462

Wild Edibles & Medicinals of Southern Appalachia, Video 1, Summer Series. Robbinsville, NC: Ironweed Productions, 2001. App Spec Coll Video VC 461

Wild Edibles & Medicinals of Southern Appalachia, Video 2, Summer Series. Robbinsville, NC: Ironweed Productions, 2001. App Spec Coll Video VC 463

Other Sources: 

Human Relations Area Files (Available in App Spec Coll Microfiche Collection)
Outline of World Cultures
Mountain Whites-NN5

Outline of Cultural Materials (Available in App Spec Coll Microfiche Collection)
Herbs, in medicine-278 and 757

Manuscript Collections for Medicine and Healing (Available in App Spec Coll in the Doughtery Reading Room by appointment.)
* 224. William Allan Papers
* 250. Ashe County, NC Midwife Collection of Papers
* 392. Harper-Beall Family Papers, 1826-1959, n.d.
* 300. Dr. A.F. Horne Ledger
* 125. J. Walter Jones Records
* 178. Robert King, M.D. Ledger
* 344. Oakland Heights Sanatorium Statement
* 411. Proposed Midwifery Study Collection of Papers, 1980
* 219. Roanoke Life Saving and First Aid Crew, Inc. Photograph
* 321. Smyth County, VA Lifetime Collection

Compiled by: 

Compiler: David N. Cozzo, 21 October 1997

Updated by: 

Updated: Anne E. Chesky, 9 October 2008