The Big, Bad Book of Botany: The World's Most Fascinating Floraby Published 05 Aug 2014
|The Big, Bad Book of Botany: The World's Most Fascinating Flora.pdf|
|Publisher||William Morrow Paperbacks|
David Attenborough meets Lemony Snicket in Michael Largo's entertaining and enlightening one-of-a-kind compendium of the world's most amazing and bizarre plants, their history, and their lore.
The Big, Bad Book of Botany introduces a world of wild, wonderful, and weird plants. Some are so rare, they were once more valuable than gold. Some found in ancient mythology hold magical abilities, including the power to turn a person to stone. Others have been used by assassins to kill kings, and sorcerers to revive the dead. Here, too, is vegetation with astonishing properties to cure and heal, many of which have long since been lost with the advent of modern medicine.
Organized alphabetically, The Big, Bad Book of Botany combines the latest in biological information with bizarre facts about the plant kingdom's oddest members, including a species that is more poisonous than a cobra and a prehistoric plant that actually "walked." Largo takes you through the history of vegetables and fruits and their astonishing agricultural evolution. Throughout, he reveals astonishing facts, from where the world's first tree grew to whether plants are telepathic.
Featuring more than 150 photographs and illustrations, The Big, Bad Book of Botany is a fascinating, fun A-to-Z encyclopedia for all ages that will transform the way we look at the natural world.
"The Big, Bad Book of Botany: The World's Most Fascinating Flora" Reviews
DNF - 20%.
I wanted to like this book. I'm a plant biology student, but enjoy pop science books about plants because there is so much interesting stuff about interesting plants out there that I will never get to study. Unfortunately, 'bad' might be the operative term with this book. I was only halfway through the letter A (the book is composed of short articles about different plants, organized alphabetically) before I spotted an error. Largo claims that genetically modified alfalfa contains a chemical found in Round Up, which somehow then confers resistance to the herbicide sprayed on neighboring fields. Huh? That makes no sense. Genetically modified alfalfa, like GM soybeans and corn, has an inserted gene that provides resistance to Round Up, so it doesn't die when farmers spray herbicide over the field to kill the weeds. Yet, without apparently understanding even the basic science (seriously, it took me five minutes to look it up just now) behind genetically engineered alfalfa, Largo recommends not eating it.
I started flipping around at that point. Largo totally mangles fern life cycles, includes several fungi (actually more closely related to animals than plants), makes some odd claims about gymnosperms and elderberries...and so on. Apparently there was no fact checker, and the author couldn't be bothered to use good sources for his info. The result is a rather sloppy mishmash of botany with a little history and trivia tossed in. Some of the illustrations are nice, but they are uneven in quality.
Unsurprisingly, the more I knew about a given subject, the more easily I could spot inaccuracies. So if you know nothing about plants, you might well enjoy this book, but you will also come away with quite a lot of bad information. I appreciate the effort to make botany accessible, but I think you'll be much better off with Amy Stewart's Drunken Botanist or Wicked Plants.
Some of the 'facts' in this book should be taken with a grain of salt.
As an avid but novice gardener I found many errors in this book.
A disappointing book that I managed to finish out of sheer bloody-minded stubbornness. It is a really good concept for a book, but the author is by his own admission not an expert and that shows painfully throughout the book. It is full of factual errors and poorly edited. There are interesting tidbits in here, but given the tendency for speculation, folklore, and outright errors to be presented as facts, it is hard to be sure what is actually true and worth remembering.
Excellent read! You learn some interesting facts and history about plants you already love, as well as plants you've never heard of!