Braiding Sweetgrass

Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

“I give daily thanks for Robin Wall Kimmerer for being a font of endless knowledge, both mental and spiritual.” —RICHARD POWERS, NEW YORK TIMES
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A New York Times Bestseller
A Washington Post Bestseller
A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
Named a “Best Essay Collection of the Decade” by Literary Hub

Updated with a new introduction from Robin Wall Kimmerer, the hardcover special edition of Braiding Sweetgrass, reissued in honor of the fortieth anniversary of Milkweed Editions, celebrates the book as an object of meaning that will last the ages. Beautifully bound with a new cover featuring an engraving by Tony Drehfal, this edition includes a bookmark ribbon, and five brilliantly colored illustrations by artist Nate Christopherson. In increasingly dark times, we honor the experience that more than two million readers have cherished about the book—gentle, simple, tactile, beautiful, even sacred—and offer an edition that will inspire readers to gift it again and again, spreading the word about scientific knowledge, indigenous wisdom, and the teachings of plants.

As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take us on “a journey that is every bit as mythic as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise” (Elizabeth Gilbert).

Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, a mother, and a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings—asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass—offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices. In a rich braid of reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings will we be capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learn to give our own gifts in return.

Learn more about the living legacy of this life-changing book here. 



Publish Date
5.5 × 8.5 × 0.94 in
17.9 oz

Robin Wall Kimmerer

Robin Wall Kimmerer is a mother, scientist, decorated professor, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling collection of essays Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants.

Praise and Prizes

  • “[Braiding Sweetgrass] is simultaneously meditative about the abundance of the natural world and bold in its call to action on ‘climate urgency.’ Kimmerer asks readers to honor the Earth’s glories, restore rather than take, and reject an economy and culture rooted in acquiring more. She invites us to learn from plants and other species, nature’s teachers. ‘If we use a plant respectfully, it will flourish. If we ignore it, it will go away,’ she writes. Her work is ‘an invitation into reciprocity.’”


    Karen Heller, The Washington Post
  • “I give daily thanks for Robin Wall Kimmerer for being a font of endless knowledge, both mental and spiritual.”

    Richard Powers
    New York Times
  • “Robin Wall Kimmerer is writer of rare grace. She writes about the natural world from a place of such abundant passion that one can never quite see the world the same way after having seen it through Kimmerer’s eyes. In Braiding Sweetgrass, she takes us on a journey that is every bit as mythic as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise. She is a great teacher, and her words are a hymn of love to the world.”

    Elizabeth Gilbert
  • “Robin Wall Kimmerer has written an extraordinary book, showing how the factual, objective approach of science can be enriched by the ancient knowledge of the indigenous people. It is the way she captures beauty that I love the most—the images of giant cedars and wild strawberries, a forest in the rain and a meadow of fragrant sweetgrass will stay with you long after you read the last page.”

    Jane Goodall
  • “Robin Wall Kimmerer opens a sense of wonder and humility for the intelligence in all kinds of life we are used to naming and imagining as inanimate.”

    Krista Tippett
    host of On Being
  • Braiding Sweetgrass, has, I believe, changed the lives of a lot of people, because we have had people come in the store to say, I read this book, I have given it away, and I want to buy more and give them away.” —Janet Webster Jones, Source Booksellers

    PBS NewsHour
  • “Huge thanks to all the incredible women on Twitter who recommended I read Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Thank you.”

    Neko Case
  • “In a world where only six percent of mammalian biomass on the planet now comprises of wild animals, I longed for books that pressed me up against the inhuman, that connected me to an inhuman world. Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer moved me to actual tears.”

    Alexandra Kleeman
    The Millions
  • “In Braiding Sweetgrass, botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer tackles everything from sustainable agriculture to pond scum as a reflection of her Potawatomi heritage, which carries a stewardship ‘which could not be taken by history: the knowing that we belonged to the land.’ … It’s a book absorbed with the unfolding of the world to observant eyes—that sense of discovery that draws us in.”

  • “[R]emarkable, wise and potentially paradigm-shifting … [Braiding Sweetgrass] is a coherent and compelling call for what [Kimmerer] describes as ‘restorative reciprocity’, an appreciation of gifts and the responsibilities that come with them, and how gratitude can be medicine for our sick, capitalistic world.”

    James Yeh
    The Guardian
  • “This stirring tribute to the natural world has gotten a dazzling makeover, plus a new introduction by the author, indigenous botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer.”

    Washington Post
    A 2020 Holiday Gift Guide Selection
  • “Kimmerer draws on her own experiences as a botanist and an indigenous woman to meticulously craft this book of essays about the importance of nurturing ecological awareness and developing a relationship with the natural world.”

    “Celebrate Earth Day With These 7 Planet-Focused Books”
  • “[Kimmerer] weaves a beautiful narrative around the beauty of the natural world and the lessons it teaches us, which feels so important in these delicate times.”

    “21 Books that Will Put You in a Good Mood”
  • “Botanist, professor of plant ecology, and Potawatomi woman Robin Wall Kimmerer merges her experiences within each of these identities and communities to explore nature through scientific, cultural, and philosophical lenses. She urges readers to examine their relationship with the natural world, and open themselves up to the idea that plants and animals have valuable lessons to teach us.”

  • “The author’s 2013 book of essays on Native folkways concerning plants and their roles in human life is reissued here with new illustrations and design, a handsome production that well serves her engaging text, which will be of interest to readers schooled in the work of writers such as Wendell Berry, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Joy Harjo … A smart, subtle overlay of different systems of thought that together teach us to be better citizens of Earth.”

    Kirkus Reviews
  • “This NYTimes best-selling book has been on my nightstand the past 2 years straight. Not because I haven’t finished it, but because I find myself coming back to it for nourishment again and again.”

    Aimee Nezhukumatathil
    Author of World of Wonders
  • “Kimmerer’s book is a beautiful blend of scientific knowledge and traditional wisdom that reads like poetry, testimony and essay, bringing hard facts about our dying natural world to surface, and with a gentle hand, she motivates and stirs something deep within us. Milkweed Editions published a special hardback edition this year; it is a treasure that will stay in my personal library and will be passed down to family. I love it that much.”

    Rosaura Magaña, Palabras Bilingual Bookstore
    BuzzFeed’s “46 Books Our Favorite Indie Booksellers Were Grateful For This Year”
  • “[Kimmerer] has given us a profound perspective of history, restoration, reciprocity, responsibility and hope. If we take only what we need and find ways to restore what we do take, we can take care of the earth and she will take care of us.”

    Kit Crawford
    Forbes “All-Star Book Club”
  • “Braiding Sweetgrass forever changed the genre of nature writing.”

    Walker Art Magazine
  • “Professor and botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer knows that the answer to all forms of ecological unbalance have long been hidden in plain sight, told in the language of plants and animals, minerals and elements. She draws on her own heritage … pairing science with Indigenous principles and storytelling to advocate for a renewed connection between human beings and nature.”

  • “The gift of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book is that she provides readers the ability to see a very common world in uncommon ways, or, rather, in ways that have been commonly held but have recently been largely discarded. She puts forth the notion that we ought to be interacting in such a way that the land should be thankful for the people.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune
  • “Caring for plants is important. Published in 2013, Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer is about just that. Seen through the eyes of a botanist and Native American, this non-fiction book asks many questions about botany, while looking to Native American traditions and Western science for the answers.”

    British Vogue
    “4 Emma Watson-Approved Books”
  • “In this time of intense grief, Robin Wall Kimmerer’s work resonates with the wisdom of the entire plant world, its past and present and future. Plants are not simply of the world, passively shaped by external forces—they are world-builders, and they make it possible for the rest of us to exist. Through Kimmerer, I have learned to be more present with plants, with mosses—to learn from and with them. I am reminded that the verb ‘to be’ can be thought of as ‘to make world’; that we cannot separate ourselves from the matter of the rest of the world, and that each and every encounter changes us.”

    The Believer
  • “Kimmerer eloquently makes the case that by observing and celebrating our reciprocal relationship with the natural world, one can gain greater ecological consciousness.”

    Sierra Magazine
  • “With deep compassion and graceful prose, Robin Wall Kimmerer encourages readers to consider the ways that our lives and language weave through the natural world. A mesmerizing storyteller, she shares legends from her Potawatomi ancestors to illustrate the culture of gratitude in which we all should live.”

    Publishers Weekly
  • Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer is just beautiful. It makes the hours fly by and puts a shimmery haze on the edges of the world.”

  • Braiding Sweetgrass is instructive poetry. Robin Wall Kimmerer has put the spiritual relationship that Chief Seattle called the ‘web of life’ into writing. Industrial societies lack the understanding of the interrelationships that bind all living things—this book fills that void. I encourage one and all to read these instructions.”

    Oren Lyons
    Faithkeeper, Onondaga Nation and Indigenous Environmental Leader