*Tales of 100 plants recounted that will transform how we view and value plants*The author Chris Beardshaw is one of the leading lights in the world of gardening A tapestry of musings, rambles and 'I didn't know that' facts that document some of the diverse, fantastic and entertaining relationships that humans have forged with plants throughout the ages. These pithy stories span species celebrated as tribal fodder to delicacies elevated as some of our most valued possessions. From the ultimate symbols of devotion and love to campaigns that resulted in genocide, revolt and the shaping of the global political landscape the thousands of plant species that are irrevocably intertwined with our existence have been deployed in warfare, espionage and even space travel. Never again will a carrot on a dinner plate, the seductive scent of a woman's perfume, or a pineapple in a fruit bowl be viewed with indifference. The relations forged reveal details of miscellaneous human traits, from our instinct for survival to decadent aesthetic expression, from ingenuity and inventiveness to stupidity and greed encapsulating superstition, fear and the absurd.
Perhaps surprisingly many associations, no matter how historic and apparently disconnected, still have huge significance in our lives. Some of course were, and remain still, simple folly. What persists is our unquenched curiosity to unravel and unlock the secrets of the plant kingdom for our own ends resulting occasionally in absurdity but sometimes in mind-boggling technological advances. Includes fascinating chapters like "The Tomato Ketchup Fraud", "Devil of a Hangover", "Castor Oil and the KGB, "Spicy Footwear", "Sweet Beet", "Nettle Wig or Nettle Shampoo", "Morris Men and the Walnut Tree", "Meadows that Give Honey Bees Headaches", "Victory Wreaths and Cyanide", and many, many more.
Chris Beardshaw is one of those rare educators who is able to communicate complicated subjects easily and with enthusiasm. He is a popular speaker on horticultural subjects at British educational institutions and on TV. This light-weight, handy-size book (a perfect companion for a traveler and those bed-bound) contains a collection of 100 concise reflections on the relationships that man has had with plants. Pointing out the chemical components that make each plant attractive, he tells how each plant earned its name and the part that it played in history. This digest of information will provide many delightful hours of reading for a gardener. -- Marilyn K. Alaimo Chicago Botanic Garden, December 2013