Enduring Seeds: Native American Agriculture and Wild Plant Conservation

Gary Paul Nabhan, Author North Point Press $0 (225p) ISBN 978-0-86547-343-0
Few of us are familiar with the Okeechobee gourd of the wild sunflower Helianthus exilus , yet these plants are the source of improved garden squash and sunflowers. We need to draw on wild plants for certain qualitiesresistance to disease, insect and drought, tolerance to salt in the soil; the current rate of vegetation destruction in diminishing the availabiity of wild plant resources. Nabhan, assistant director of Phoenix's Desert Botanical Garden and author of The Desert Smells Like Rain , here discusses desert ecology, native American agriculture and wild seed conservation. He looks at centuries of plant culture in the Southwest and takes us to dry tropical forests of Central America where seed agriculture probably originated. Nabhan focuses on specific crops: wild rice, sunflowers, gourds and the ``factory'' turkey; the latter exemplifies a shallow gene pool (Indians bred turkeys selectively for feathers). Nabhan also reports on seed-conservation groups and their efforts to re-introduce old seeds into the ecosystem. This is for readers interested in ecology, especially for gardeners, farmers, botanists. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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