a flowering plant with roots exposed.

The Encyclopedia of Rootical Folklore: Plant Tales from Africa and the Diaspora

by Natty Mark Samuels Author and Nancey B. Price Illustrator

Unlock the oral tradition of plant lore

This A-to-Z treasury of stories and poems features plants of Africa and the wider Caribbean region. With each entry, plants become much more than material for humans to use. They serve as links to the orisha deities of African diasporic religions. They speak for themselves, forming alliances with people and animals. They serve as points of connection between the many generations of people who share their stories.

In The Encyclopedia of Rootical Folklore, botanical folklorist Natty Mark Samuels keeps the oral tradition of plant lore thriving in the present day. The stories sometimes involve characters of his invention (as well as age-old folklore staples like Anansi) and invoke contemporary situations, from bad bosses to mental health struggles. A baobab tree misses his old friend Birago Diop, a poet of the Négritude movement. Basil comes to the rescue for a woman who’s had a rough day. On moonlit evenings in a square in Kingston, kids gather round a Rasta elder to hear tales of dates, guava, and the orishas linked to each plant.

The 88 entries, each accompanied by botanical information, blend age-old lore and modern sensibility to bring the plants of Africa and the Caribbean to life. Includes a glossary, illustrations, multilingual species index, and references.

  • The Encyclopedia of Rootical Folklore: Plant Tales from Africa and the Diaspora image #1
  • The Encyclopedia of Rootical Folklore: Plant Tales from Africa and the Diaspora image #2
  • The Encyclopedia of Rootical Folklore: Plant Tales from Africa and the Diaspora image #3
  • The Encyclopedia of Rootical Folklore: Plant Tales from Africa and the Diaspora image #4
  • The Encyclopedia of Rootical Folklore: Plant Tales from Africa and the Diaspora image #5

Comments & Reviews

9/18/2023

"As a route into cultural botany, this collection . . . is a wonderfully colorful guide to the individuals and collective dreams within the plant kingdom. Natty Mark Samuels reminds the reader of the dynamic balance between science and ideas, myth and logic, and of how to remember across time and geography."

9/18/2023

". . . A unique and long-overdue resource. The book will bring much awareness of the rich oral traditions, knowledge of plants and nature, and wisdom that are buried in folklore from Africa and the Americas . . . Indispensable."