cover image Planting Our World

Planting Our World

Stefano Mancuso, trans. from the Italian by Gregory Conti. Other Press, $25.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-63542-256-6

“Believing that we humans have by now placed ourselves above nature is one of the gravest dangers to the survival of our species,” contends Mancuso (The Nation of Plants), a botanist at the University of Florence, in these insightful essays about the wondrous qualities of plants and humanity’s relationship with them. In “Planting Cities,” he explains that cities are hotter than rural areas because their dark surfaces absorb solar radiation, and suggests that “covering our cities with plants” could insulate them from the effects of global warming. Humans, Mancuso posits in “Planting the Underground,” would do well to imitate the “mutual aid” exemplified by certain trees’ natural root grafting abilities, in which a healthy tree’s roots can connect with the roots of a stump and provide the stump with the water it needs to survive. The author is at turns animated and contemplative, best illustrated in “Planting Knowledge” as he recounts his efforts to measure the slipperiness of a banana peel while meditating on how there will always be more to learn. The reflections are as entertaining as they are educational and showcase the overlooked complexity of plant life. Shot through with wisdom and joy, this will captivate readers. Illus. (Apr.)