Around the World in 80 Plants

Jonathan Drori. Laurence King, $24.99 (216p) ISBN 978-1-78627-230-0
Drori (Around the World in 80 Trees), a former trustee of the Royal Botanic Gardens, again masterfully blends science, history, and culture in this globe-spanning introduction to botany. In 80 illustrated chapters, Drori provides the evolutionary origins of familiar plants (the banana, for instance, is “an ancient hybrid of two wild species that still grow in South East Asia, with small, unappetizing fruit”), along with surprising revelations (the artichoke does not exist in the wild, but was bred from the thistle family) and introductions to obscure vegetation such as the tree tumbo, which Charles Darwin dubbed “the platypus of the plant world.” Drori also delves into how fruits have been used in rituals in different societies and faiths, and describes wedding garlands made of shrubs that are sacred to Greek goddesses, validating his introductory remarks that most of the entries “reveal as much about people as they do about plants.” Witty prose (“The nettle’s separate male and female plants are an understated couple”) is a further plus. An accessible and colorful volume, this will charm even readers who know little about the plant-world. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 01/15/2021
Release date: 04/20/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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