Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?
I am an Ethnobotanist and Clinical Herbalist and I have long been inspired by the healing roles plants play for both humans and also our planet—and so I have built a career around this! I am incredibly lucky to have found my passion early in life and I have always just followed it, even though much of the times the path ahead seemed so unclear! I got into writing because when I was doing my Master’s Thesis I had to do a lot of writing to prove my research was valid and in the process I had an awesome advisor (the late Dr. Thomas Ruehr from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA) who really helped edit my work and gently lead me into realizing this was something I could do! Strangely, although I always hating writing classes in my school days, I ended up with one of my first jobs out of college being a Staff Writer for an alternative medicine publishing company! From there, even though I never thought I would aspire to become a writer (in the least!) the projects kept coming and I have realized that it is SUCH an important medium in order to get my message about plants across!
What inspired you to write your book?
This series of books has been something long-simmering in my mind over the years. I have done a lot of research and writing that is heavy on the scientific side of things, but I really wanted to reach the common person who either had a garden or had some inclination that they were interested in plants. I feel it is so important for people to begin developing this relationship and to realize the potential healing role they can plan in our lives—even common garden plants that are right under our noses!
What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
I would like them to start wondering and looking at the plants that already exist in their lives, to develop a curiosity for what that plant is about. It’s kind of like getting to know a person, we often develop some curiosity about them before we become friends…Plants are the same. Once someone learns one thing—maybe it is a plant that is useful in some aspect—they will never look at that plant the same again. They will always remember its name.
I would like people to stop looking at the amorphous “green carpet” that surrounds them and start realizing there are individuals that make up that green carpet. Once people turn that corner in their minds, the world becomes a much richer place!! People will also become more effective and interested in saving our precious biodiversity.
What drew you into this particular genre?
It was really my career and work with plants and herbs. I have a few other published books (from mainstream medical or educational publishers), but these books are pretty nerdy scientific type of books that aren’t focused at the general public. I wanted to write a beautiful book with colorful photos that people would enjoy looking at and could use to begin their interest in alternative garden uses.
What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
I suppose Facebook has been the most helpful in getting the word out, but I really could do more work to develop communities of people who are interested in my “Botanicals With Benefits” topic. In fact, I have just created a Facebook Group for Botanicals With Benefits which I hope can do this, and I would love people to come and check it out, become members of the group to swap their experiences with plants and their multiple uses.. if you have a unique or really useful way to use a plant in your garden, please join and share with us…Or just come to learn!
What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
I think it is just to do it –if you have an interest in writing, then create an outline, and start in small steps by tackling the topics in chunks—before you know it, you will be well underway in your writing!
What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?
The Botanicals With Benefits volumes will be coming out over time.. there are about 6-7 of them planned, so I have my work cut out for me with those! Also, I am currently writing/Editor of a book in a new field called Decoloniality which will be published by the educational publisher Springer Nature. It will be called: Understanding Socio-Ecological Systems Through Decoloniality: Case Studies on Convergence of Indigenous and Western Knowledge. It is a mouthful and another nerdy scientific book. However, I feel this field is very important and relevant to plants because much of our plant knowledge comes from indigenous wisdom! That should be published in 2022.
I am also currently joining a friend of mine who is a Doctor in San Luis Obispo, and will have a limited herbal & Flower Essence practice alongside her integrative primary care practice, Dr. Lindsey Faucette at the SLO Health center. We will be planning a lot of activities to merge our experience and bring natural healing to people. Come join us!
About the Author
Ethnobotanist, Herbalist and Author, Kerry Hughes – with a 20-year record-of-
success in natural product development – is driven by a tenacious fascination
with the potential health enhancing role plants and nutrients can play, and her
purpose is Ethno-Botanical Discovery and strategically innovating and expanding
the boundaries of new natural product development. Through this, Kerry has
catalyzed significant phyto-product breakthroughs that have been applied to
bring to market new, efficacious and profitable products that not only heal people
but also protect our threatened global biodiversity.
Kerry’s love of natural products has compelled her to write and speak frequently
on a variety of subjects. Her writing includes the recently published Botanicals
With Benefits: Establish a New Relationship with your garden (2020), as well as
these in-depth text books: Understanding Socio-Ecological Systems through
Decoloniality: Convergence of Indigenous and Western Knowledge (in press);
The Incense Bible, Taylor & Francis (2007), one of the first scientific reviews &
examinations of incense, The Health Professionals Guide to Dietary
Supplements, Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins (2006), a peer-reviewed guide to
herbs and nutritional supplements, and Botanical Medicines: The Desk
Reference for Major Herbal Supplements, Haworth Press (2002) an in-depth text-
book on the medical aspects of many of our top supplements. Additionally, she
has authored over a dozen articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals on various
natural product topics.
Kerry is the Founder of EthnoPharm; a consulting business focused on Natural
Product Discovery and Development. She is also on the Scientific & Medical
Advisory Boards for Amare Global, Good Pharma and Hilma, and is on the
Advisory Board for Global Food Forums. Kerry has acted as a consultant to the
United Nations through the International Trade Centre (ITC) for international
development projects involving botanicals and authored essential oil and organic
reports for the Market News Service (MNS). As the Director of the US office of
The Institute for Market Ecology (IMO), an eco-product certifier, she helped to co-
develop and establish the Fair for Life Social & Fair Trade Certification in the US
market, the highest-bar global Fair Trade certification standard. Today, she
continues her work with standard development on the Certified Regenerative
standard by A Greener World, currently in its pilot phase.
Kerry has a background in Ethnobotany and Biochemistry, with a Bachelor of
Science degree in Biochemistry, and a Master of Science degree in Agriculture
with an emphasis in Ethnobotany and Soil Science from California Polytechnic
State University, San Luis Obispo, California. She is also a certified Clinical
Herbalist by the Berkeley Herbal Center, an Advanced Australian Bush Flower
Essence Advanced Practitioner, and teaches at the Berkeley Herbal Center &
The Herbal Academy of New England. Kerry also maintains a Clinical Herbal
practice at the SLO Health Center in San Luis Obispo, CA.