Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Wicked Plants Review

Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart

(from the back of the book)
A tree that sheds poison daggers; a glistening red seed that stops the heart; a shrub that causes paralysis; a vine that strangles; and a leaf that triggered a war. Amy Stewart, bestselling author of Flower Confidential, takes on over two hundred of Mother Nature's most appalling creations in an A to Z of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend. Menacing botanical illustrations render a ghastly portrait of evildoers that may be lurking on your own backyard. Drawing on history, medicine, science, and legend, this compendium of bloodcurdling botany will entertain, enlighten, and alarm even the most intrepid gardeners and nature lovers.

There are a lot of interesting facts in this little book. I’m not sure how much of it will be unknown to someone who actually has some knowledge of plants but for someone like me, who has very little, it is filled with new things. Some of which you might not want to know. It covers a variety of plants, some that kill, some that are painful, some that are destructive and some that are just annoying. The book includes not just the deadly plants but those that are invasive and destructive or that sting, itch or intoxicate. It goes from hemlock, to tobacco, to celery, to seaweed that grows so vigorously that it chokes out all other aquatic life. There are some plants here that you might have in your home right now. I don’t know that I will ever be able to eat a cashew again without wondering if it was properly deshelled, and figs may never be on my menu again. Stewart doesn’t just give you the facts and the symptoms but anecdotes about when and where these various plants have turned up in history, making it both informative and entertaining. It is filled with beautiful etching of the plants too, to help you avoid mishaps on your nature walks.

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