For over a decade, artist Jimmy Fike travelled across the continental United States in an epic effort to photograph wild edible flora. Edible Plants is the culmination of that journey, featuring over 100 photographs that Fike has selectively colourized to highlight the comestible part of the plant.
While the images initially appear to be scientific illustrations or photograms from the dawn of photography when plants were placed directly on sensitized paper and exposed under the sun, a closer look reveals, according to Liesl Bradner of the Los Angeles Times, "haunting [and] eerily beautiful" photographs. Beyond instilling wonder, Fike's contemporary, place-based approach to landscape photography emphasizes our relationship to the natural world, reveals food sources, and encourages environmental stewardship. His clever and beautiful method makes it easy to identify both the specimen and its edible parts and includes detailed descriptions of the plant's wider purposes as food and medicine.
Sumptuously illustrated and delightfully informative, Edible Plants is the perfect gift for anyone curious about unlocking the secrets of native North American plants.
Jimmy W. Fike was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1970. Even at an early age, he showed a penchant for art and a love for exploring nature. He earned a BA in Art from Auburn University and an MFA in Photography from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Fike's photographs have been exhibited extensively across the United States, published in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones, and can be found in the permanent collections of the George Eastman Museum, St. Lawrence University, and the University of Alabama Birmingham. He currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his daughter, Isobel, and dogs, Sallie and Scrappy, where he works as Residential Art Faculty at Estrella Mountain Community College.
"Jimmy W. Fike's book, Edible Plants: A Photographic Survey of the Wild Edible Botanicals of North America, is 218 pages of botanical pageantry. For those of us fascinated by and focused on wild edibles, and even those who are not, this book will become the gold standard for edible plants in North America. The history, details, and photography are breathtaking!"
– Todd P. Witcher, Discover Life in America
"What is most striking about Jimmy Fike's work is his ability bring to life the spirit of a plant. He extrapolates the natural beauty of each individual part of the plant and weaves those parts together to bring to light the plant's true elegance. His works create a powerful, poetic connection between us and the plants that sustain us."
– Dee Swann, Sr. Photo Editor for Digital Engagement, The Washington Post
"For the last 13 years, Fike has been photographing North America's edible flora. But instead of snapping pictures in the field, he carefully harvests the plants and takes them home to photograph. During the editing process, he only leaves a few splashes of color in the image to identify edible parts of the plant. With the plants pinned up like butterflies, the result is both vivid and somehow gruesome."
– Anne Ewbank, Atlas Obscura
"This is an unusual and exceptionally engaging survey of edible plants. Hungry food foragers will carry it in the woods, and the images are wonderfully suitable for coffee-table enjoyment."
– Art Lichtenstein, Booklist
"A simply gorgeous and sumptuously illustrated coffee-table style volume, Edible Plants: A Photographic Survey of the Wild Edible Botanicals of North America will prove to be a welcome and prized addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Contemporary Flora & Botanical Photography collections [...] Edible Plants is especially commended to the attention of non-specialist general readers who are curious about unlocking the secrets of native North American plants through the expert commentaries that accompany each truly memorable and full color photograph."
– James A. Cox, Midwest Book Review
"Edible Plants: A Photographic Survey of the Wild Edible Botanicals of North America by Jimmy W. Fike is a lovely book illustrating the art and science of photography and nature, specifically using edible plants as subjects."
– Jim Chatfield, Akron Beacon Journal
"These striking photographs seek to inform, similar to the horticultural photography and illustrations of eras past, perhaps making foragers of us all. But what's more, they are painstakingly beautiful. This book would make an impressive gift for the naturalist in your life."
– Susannah Felts, Bookpage
"Edible Plants: A Photographic Survey of the Wild Edible Botanicals of North America is a gorgeous book: page after page of photographs of plants posed against a black background, silver-white with highlights in full color, worthy of pride of place on the coffee table. This book would make a great gift for someone fascinated by nature, or who admires art and composition, or preferably both. The photos are almost otherworldly, but grounded in the world around us. I recommend taking a long, slow afternoon to gaze at them, and then go for a walk to find what's growing between the cracks in the sidewalk in your neighborhood."
– Erica H. Smith, Washington Gardener