Weeds in the Urban Landscape

Richard Orlando. North Atlantic, $24.95 trade paper (392p) ISBN 978-1-62317-211-4
Orlando, who worked in the grounds department at UC Berkeley for nearly 30 years, conceived of this deeply researched guide to weed identification and control while teaching an urban weeds course at a community college. Unable to find a suitable textbook for the course, he created this one, which identifies weed families, helps gardeners control weeds, and places weeds in historical and natural contexts. Weeds are not just unwanted, out-of-place plants, Orlando maintains: they “belong to a specific group of plants that follow us around, that are supremely well adapted to colonizing the bare, disturbed ground.” The bulk of the book profiles 189 weeds, with each profile including the identifying features of the plant, where it originated, as well as its nomenclature. Orlando also discusses the cultural history of each plant, including its use in folklore, songs, poetry, and recipes. For example, the entry on “tree of heaven,” which is native to China and believed to have been introduced to the United States by Chinese miners, notes the plant’s “cinematic claim to fame” in the film adaptation of Betty Smith’s novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The last section emphasizes integrated weed management. While the book is primarily a reference guide for controlling weeds, the historical context and cultural references add a holistic dimension that will appeal to general readers with an interest in botany. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/19/2018
Release date: 05/22/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 978-1-62317-212-1
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