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Foster, Steven 1957-

FOSTER, Steven 1957-

PERSONAL: Born February 27, 1957, in Portland, ME; son of Herbert (a builder) and Hope (a teacher; maiden name, Shain) Foster; married Jude Farar (a nurse), May, 1987; children: Colin, Abbey. Hobbies and other interests: Collecting books related to economic botany.

ADDRESSES: Home—P.O. Box 106, Eureka Springs, AR 72632. Office—Steven Foster Group, General Delivery, CR 158, Brixey, MO 65618.

CAREER: Shaker Community, Sabbathday Lake, ME, herbalist, 1974-78; Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), Washington, DC, director of Herb Garden Project in Santa Cruz, CA, 1979; Ozark Resources Center, Brixey, MO, research director of Ozark Beneficial Plant Project, 1983-87; freelance writer, technical editor, photographer, and consultant in Eureka Springs, AR, 1987—; currently president, Steven Foster Group (stock photography provider), Brixey, MO. Izard Ozark Native Seeds (retail mail order company), proprietor, 1983-88. Organic Herb Growers and Producers Coop, member of founding board of directors, 1978-80; Santa Cruz County Community Gardens, member of board of directors, 1979; Arkansas Woodlands Heritage Resource Center and Museum, member of advisory committee. Clear Spring School, vice president of board of directors, 1988-91; American Botanical Council, special publications editor, 1989—.

MEMBER: International Herb Growers and Marketers Association (member of board of directors, 1989-92), American Herb Association, American Horticultural Society, American Institute of the History of Pharmacy, American Rock Garden Society, American Society of Pharmacognosy, Council of Biology Editors, Council for Botanical and Horticultural Libraries, National Audubon Society, Society for Economic Botany, Society of Ethnobiology, Canadian Wildflower Society, Eastern Native Plant Alliance, Arkansas Native Plant Society (charter member), Missouri Native Plant Society, Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Josselyn Botanical Society, New England Botanical Club, Southern Appalachian Botanical Club.


(And photographer) Herbal Bounty: The Gentle Art of Herb Culture, Gibbs M. Smith (Salt Lake City, UT), 1984, revised edition published as Herbal Renaissance: Growing, Using, and Understanding Herbs in the Modern World, Gibbs-Smith (Salt Lake City, UT), 1993.

(Photographer) Bob Conrow and Arlene Hecksel, Herbal Pathfinders, Woodbridge Press, 1984.

(With James A. Duke, and photographer) A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants: Eastern and Central North America, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1990, 2nd edition published as A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America, 2000.

Echinacea: Nature's Immune Enhancer, Healing Arts Press (Rochester, VT), 1991.

(With Yue Chongxi) Herbal Emissaries: Bringing Chinese Herbs to the West, Healing Arts Press (Rochester, VT), 1992.

(With Roger Caras) A Field Guide to Venomous Animals and Poisonous Plants of North America, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1994, expanded edition, 1998.

Forest Pharmacy: Medicinal Plants in American Forests, Forest History Society (Durham, NC), 1995.

Herbs for Your Health: A Handy Guide for Knowing and Using 50 Common Herbs, Interweave Press (Loveland, CO), 1996, expanded edition published as One Hundred One Medicinal Herbs: An Illustrated Guide, 1998.

(With Albert Y. Leung) Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Drugs and Cosmetics, 2nd edition, Wiley (New York, NY), 1996.

Steven Foster's Guide to Herbal Dosages: How Much? How Often? What Not to Take, Interweave Press (Loveland, CO), 1999.

(With Varro E. Tyler) Tyler's Honest Herbal: A Sensible Guide to the Use of Herbs and Related Remedies, 4th edition, Haworth Herbal Press (New York), 1999.

(With Linda B. White) The Herbal Drugstore: The Best Natural Over-the-Counter and Prescription Medicines, Rodale (Emmaus, PA), 2000.

(Photographer) Ellen Evert Hopman, Walking the World in Wonder: A Children's Herbal, Healing Arts Press (Rochester, VT), 2000.

(With Christopher Hobbs) A Field Guide to Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2002.

Contributor to anthologies, including Herbs, Spices, and Medicinal Plants: Recent Advances in Botany, Horticulture, and Pharmacology, Volume IV, edited by L. E. Craker and J. E. Simon, Oryx, 1989. Contributor of articles, reviews, and photographs to professional journals and newspapers. Botanical editor, Well-Being, 1979-82; book review editor, Herb News, 1980-82; Business of Herbs, associate editor, 1985—, guest editor, 1986 and 1987; HerbalGram, contributing editor, 1985-89, associate editor, 1989—; editor, Herb Business Bulletin, 1986-88, and Botanical and Herb Reviews, 1989—; contributing editor, Herb Quarterly and Bestways, both 1989; associate editor and member of editorial board, Journal of Herbs, Spices, and Medicinal Plants, 1991—.

SIDELIGHTS: Steven Foster once told CA: "At the age of seventeen, I began my career at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Community, America's oldest herb business, dating to 1799. There I established three acres of herb gardens, and there I came under the tutelage of the Maine botanist Les Eastman and Dr. Shiu Ying Hu of Harvard University's Arnold Arboretum. Both pushed my botanical interests forward, and Dr. Hu stimulated my interest in the botany of East Asia and the herbal traditions of China. This led me to study source plants of Chinese medicine with Professor Yue Chongxi in Beijing in 1987." This study resulted in the 1992 work Herbal Emissaries: Bringing Chinese Herbs to the West, which Library Journal contributor Katharine Galloway Garska called "an excellent resource for alternative medicine collections."

In the nearly thirty years since beginning his study of herbs and plants, Foster has become one of this country's most respected experts in the field, with over a dozen books to his credit. He is also a noted photographer of medicinal plants, with over 120,000 photos in his stock collection. "I know the plants that I photograph: their names, botany, history, and human connection (use)," Foster explained on his Web site. "I feel this gives me a special relationship to the plant as it reveals its beauty."

Foster's intimate knowledge of useful herbs is on display in several of his works, from his first book, 1984's Herbal Bounty: The Gentle Art of Herb Culture, to the various Peterson's Field Guides on medicinal and poisonous plants he has coauthored. His most popular work is Herbs for Your Health: A Handy Guide for Knowing and Using 50 Common Herbs, which he later expanded into One Hundred One Medicinal Herbs: An Illustrated Guide. This work contains straightforward information for the layperson on the use, preparation, and proper dosage of various medicinal plants, as well as the science behind their use. Science is also emphasized in Tyler's Honest Herbal: A Sensible Guide to the Use of Herbs and Related Remedies, a standard reference whose fourth edition Foster coauthored with Varro Tyler. This book explores the pharmaceutical science behind herbal remedies in a way general readers can understand. With the book's emphasis on science, "there is no hype and no special pleading," John Goodier noted in Reference Review, concluding that "those interested in the use and biochemistry of plants will find a lot of information in the Honest Herbal."



Booklist, Sept 1, 1992, Jane Jurgens, review of Herbal Emissaries: Bringing Chinese Herbs to the West, p. 16.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, May, 2000, Joan M. Stachnik, review of Tyler's Honest Herbal: A Sensible Guide to the Use of Herbs and Related Remedies, p. HSS-26; July-August, 2000, C. T. Mason, Jr., review of A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America, p. 2003.

Library Journal, July, 1992, Katharine Galloway Garstka, review of Herbal Emissaries, p. 112.

Los Angeles Times, Dec 23, 1984, Barbara Saltzman, review of Herbal Bounty, p. B8.

Quarterly Review of Biology, September, 1999, Hari M. Sharma, review of Tyler's Honest Herbal, p. 370.

Reference Reviews, 1999, John Goodier, review of Tyler's Honest Herbal, pp. 34-35.


Steven Foster Home Page, (October 24, 2003).*

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