In Search of the Wildest Flowers of the British Isles
Since his childhood in the Somerset Levels, Jon Dunn has been ‘lost to orchids’; yet as an adult, living on Shetland, he had seen only about two-thirds of Britain’s wild orchid species. Then he conceived the plan of a journey to find all 50 to 60 species during ‘one frantic, glorious, kaleidoscopic flowering season’. This book, the record of that venture, follows an erudite naturalist through one summer, from early purple orchids to the rarest, the ghost orchids of dark woodlands in autumn.
The Cabaret of Plants
Botany and The Imagination
Challenging the view of plants as passive vegetation, Mabey approaches them as ’authors of their own lives’ and explores our relationship with them, from prehistoric cave painting, through cultivation and exploration to the ‘astonishing revelations of 19th-century botany’. Among the intriguing plants whose lives he discusses are the baobab tree; ginseng, the panacea; the carnivorous tipitiwitchet; an Amazonian giant water lily whose leaves were the model for the Crystal Place; and the intelligence of mimosa.
The Smallest Kingdom
Plants and Plant Collectors at the Cape of Good Hope
An ornithologist and a botanical artist, Mike and Liz Fraser lived at the Cape for twelve years, marvelling at the wild flowers and retracing the journeys of the first European plant hunters to visit this ‘botanical treasurehouse’. Illustrated with drawings, watercolours and colour photographs, their book begins with the early Portuguese and Dutch explorers and includes Kew’s first international collector, Francis Masson, as it follows the history of botany and botanical exploration at the Cape up to present-day research at Kirstenbosch.
A Cultural History
Jim Endersby explores ‘the curious and unexpected variety of significances that people have ascribed to orchids’ in western cultures, from Theophrastus’ herbals in ancient Greece to Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, deadly species in science-fiction and ongoing research into Spider Orchids on the South Downs. The book looks at our relationship with orchids in terms of science, sex and death, and examines the theme of empire, describing how European imperial expansion and wealth stimulated the search for ever rarer orchids.
A Century On
Between 1899 and 1911, EH Wilson (1876–1930), the foremost plant hunter of his generation, travelled extensively in China. Initially searching for the dove tree, Davidia involucrata, he eventually collected and introduced many hundreds of plants into western gardens and arboreta. A century after Wilson, Flanagan and Kirkham, two modern-day plant hunters, retraced his routes to the high passes and exotic species of western China, often matching Wilson’s photographs of remarkable trees and landscapes with their own then-and-now images.
The Wild Flora of Kew Gardens
A Cumulative Checklist from 1759
Famed for cultivating plants from around the world, Kew Gardens is also home to many uncultivated species. Drawing on historic citations and herbarium specimen records, this illustrated catalogue lists all native and alien flora documented growing wild at Kew since its foundation in 1759.
In close-up photographs of flowers and their pollinators, the wildlife photographer Heather Angel reveals the key floral parts which aid reproduction and shows precisely how and where pollen is transferred to particular visitors. Taken in Kew Gardens, her own garden in Surrey and 20 different countries, the photographs include studies of wind pollination as well as bees, blister beetles and butterflies, a honey possum and many different birds, all captured in the act of pollinating. Slightly off-mint.
Starting his career as assistant-surgeon aboard HMS Erebus as it set off on a four-year scientific expedition to the Antarctic, Joseph Hooker (1817–1911) is now recognized as one of the founding fathers of botany. This concise, richly illustrated account traces his life and travels and discusses some of the hundreds of plants he collected and identified.
A Concise Pictorial Guide
After briefly explaining the classification of plants, this introduction to the world’s flora comprises descriptions of more than 100 flowering plant (angiosperm) families, arranged alphabetically within two groups: the dicotyledons and the monocotyledons. For each family, the text presents a botanical description along with information on distribution and economic uses, while colour artworks and captions illustrate the plants’ key features. The book ends with a glossary and an index of common and scientific names.
The Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney
A celebratory anthology of plants and flowers, this Florilegium was created by today’s botanical artists to mark the 200th anniversary of the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney. Australia’s extraordinary flora has beguiled botanists and plant collectors since Sir Joseph Banks, who arrived in Sydney Cove in 1770, and each of the 85 plants depicted in this volume is accompanied by notes on its history, including early admirers among plant hunters, as well as a botanical description.
In Science, Cultivation, Art and Culture
The cyclamen is one of the most ubiquitous houseplants and, for a genus comprising just 23 species, it has attracted a disproportionate amount of attention from horticulturalists and botanical illustrators. This comprehensive survey explains the plant's botany and structure, its natural habitats, its history of cultivation, and its representation in the arts and crafts. Watercolours illustrate the rich variety of foliage and flower that have contributed to its popularity.
Culinary Herbs and Spices of the World
The botanist Ben-Erik van Wyk presents a fully illustrated, scientific guide to nearly all the commercial herbs and spices in use today. After chapters on the history of spices and culinary traditions and lists of common names, the A to Z covers over 150 species, from Aframomum corrorima (Ethiopian cardamom) to Zingiber officinale (ginger), each illustrated entry giving details of the spice or herb, the plant, its origins, cultivation and culinary use and the chemistry of its flavour.
Champion Trees of Britain and Ireland
The Tree Register Handbook
Illustrated with more than 200 colour photographs, this book profiles every type of tree, native or introduced, growing in the British Isles. The first section lists all the species by their botanical names, with their origins and characteristics, while the second is a guide to visiting the finest specimens throughout Britain and Ireland, by region and county.
An A–Z Adventure through the Plant Kingdom
From the Alcoholic Agave, remarkable for its nine-metre high flower as well as its intoxicating sap, to Zoophilous plants and their cunning ways of attracting animal pollinators, this is an A–Z of botanical heroes, villains and eccentrics. The heroes are explorers and botanists such as Charles Darwin and EH Wilson; the villains include the deadly castor oil plant, described under U for Umbrella Assassinations. Slightly off-mint.
11 Explorations into Life on Earth
Christmas Lectures from the Royal Institution
The Royal Institution’s Christmas Lectures have been televised since 1966. Introduced by David Attenborough, this selection explores the mysteries of human and animal behaviour, and includes talks by Desmond Morris, Richard Dawkins and Sue Hartley.
Stories of Botanical Exploration
From the curative powers of cinchona bark in ancient Peru, to the introduction of lilium regale to Western gardens, this illustrated volume celebrates the investigation, appreciation and exploitation of plants through the ages, the lives and adventures of the plant-hunters, and the books that document their discoveries.