Weeds and What They Tell Us by Ehrenfried E. Pfeiffer

“Weeds and What They Tell Us” by Ehrenfried E. Pfeiffer is a compact guide that aims to provide a thorough understanding of the types of plants commonly known as weeds, their growth patterns, and their relation to soil health. The book presents both theoretical and practical aspects of combating weeds, making it a versatile resource that can be applied in various situations​​. While the book was first written in the 1950s, it remains a point of reference for many.

Weeds and What They Tell Us

Content Coverage and Depth

The book is appreciated for introducing soil types, mineral composition, soil moisture, and weed preferences in an accessible manner. It provides knowledge on how to cultivate, control, or eradicate certain “weeds” and highlights the folk, historical, and current uses of various plants deemed as “weeds.”

However, the book isn’t a comprehensive visual guide and might be best used in tandem with a more illustrative book. Understanding what weeds are, where they grow, and how they affect the soil would make this book more enriching, especially for readers who are starting or semi-informed amateurs on the subject​​.

Organization and Structure

Some readers found the organization of the book somewhat lacking. It is described as being “jumbled” at times, with the sub-message of “war on weeds” seeming conflicting at times. This might have served as a practical hook in the 1950s to keep readers invested​​.

The book also does not claim to be the best-organized or the most thorough. However, it is still a good book to consult when you are first researching a new weed’s presence in your garden or farm. It particularly covers certain weeds and weed families, especially many of the most common ones. It would be helpful for readers to already know what weed or weed family they are looking up before delving into this book​​.

Weeds and What They Tell Us
  • Pfeiffer, Ehrenfried E. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 96 Pages – 09/15/2012 (Publication Date) – Floris Books (Publisher)

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Practicality and Relevance

For those interested in weeds, this book serves as a good starting point. It offers practical information about plants, soil pH levels, drainage, humus formation, and the health of pastures and hilly areas. The author has focused on making the book accessible for the common reader, cutting out unnecessary scientific jargon and making it a quick and easy introduction to weeds​.

However, some readers have pointed out inaccuracies in the book, considering it outdated and misinformed in some cases​. This could be due to the original publication period (the 1950s), and it is important to consider this when using the book as a reference.


In conclusion, “Weeds and What They Tell Us” is a valuable tool for understanding the importance of weeds and their impact on soil health. Despite some criticisms about its organization and accuracy, it remains a handy resource for those new to the subject and a practical guide for farmers, landowners, and garden enthusiasts alike.

The book’s strength lies in its simplicity and practicality, providing a solid foundation for further exploration into the world of weeds. However, for a more visual and up-to-date understanding of weeds, it would be beneficial to supplement this book with other resources.


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    Author, blogger, podcaster, homesteading and permaculture enthusiast. I have a passion for sharing what I learn and helping others on their journey. If you're looking for me, you'll usually find me in the garden.

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