It has been my honour to have met and known Prof Ben-Erik van Wyk as a student, many years ago at the old Department of Nature Conservation at the University ofStellenbosch. From the outset it was patently obvious that he was a star student, not only academically, but also in matters of integrity and drive. He suffered no fools, gladly, or not.
His career has been stellar as an internationally recognized researcher and teacher, and his astounding output bears testimony to this. The new and revised edition of People's Plants, published by Briza http://www.briza.co.za/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=324 is a fine example of his powers (and indeed that of his his co-author Nigel Gericke).
The more than 700 plants are described in detail, and illustrated with superb photographs in broad categories covering:
FOODS & DRINKS - (1) Cereals, (2) Seeds & nuts, (3) Fruits & berries, (4) Vegetables, (5) Roots, bulbs & tubers, and (6) Beverages.
HEALTH & BEAUTY - (7) General medicines, (8) Tonic plants, (9) Mind & mood plants, (10) Women's health, (11) Wounds, burns & skin conditions, (12) Dental care, (13) Perfumes & repellents, and (14) Soap plants and cosmetics.
SKILLS & CRAFTS - (15) Hunting & fishing, (16) Dyes and tans, (17) Utility timbers, (18) Fire-making and firewood, (19) Basketry, weaving & ropes, (20) Thatching, mats & brooms.
For anyone interested in the rich natural capital and plant lore of the sub continent, I cannot reccomend this publication highly enough.