Uber-blog Boing Boing has flagged up the existence of a Golden Guide written in 1976 by pioneering Harvard ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes. Apparently the orginal US published Golden Guides 'were a fantastic series of profusely-illustrated educational books for elementary and high-school age students. Usually about nature or science, the books were most popular in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s and are now collectables, depending on the title'. The Schultes Guide, however, is about hallucinogenic plants.
Whilst original copies of the book are now changing hands for $100's, students can now freely access the reference tome which has been lovingly scanned and made available in its entirety on the Erowid drug information site.
"What are hallucinogenic plants? How do they affect mind and body? Who uses them - and why? This unique Golden Guide surveys the role of psychoactive plants in primitive and civilized societies from early times to the present. The first nontechnical guide to both the cultural significance and physiological effects of hallucinogens, HALLUCINOGENIC PLANTS will fascinate general readers and students of anthropology and history as well as botanists and other specialists. All of the wild and cultivated species considered are illustrated in brilliant full color. "From the Introduction:
Hallucinogenic plants have been used by man for thousands of years, probably since he began gathering plants for food. The hallucinogens have continued to receive the attention of civilized man through the ages. Recently, we have gone through a period during which sophisticated Western society has "discovered" hallucinogens, and some sectors of that society have taken up, for one reason or another, the use of such plants. This trend may be destined to continue.
It is, therefore, important for us to learn as much as we can about hallucinogenic plants. A great body of scientific literature has been published about their uses and their effects, but the information is often locked away in technical journals. The interested layman has a right to sound information on which to base his opinions. This book has been written partly to provide that kind of information.
No matter whether we believe that men's intake of hallucinogens in primitive or sophisticated societies constitutes use, misuse, or abuse, hallucinogenic plants have undeniably played an extensive role in human culture and probably shall continue to do so. It follows that a clear understanding of these physically and socially potent agents should be a part of man's general education.