Great news! The folks at the National Geographic have teamed up with world-famous Missouri Botanic Garden and published a treasure for plant lovers of all types. It's Flora Mirabilis: An Illustrated Time Line of Botanical Exploration, Discovery & Delight. It covers "plant explorations and botanical passions
have shaped human history and culture" and has 200+ gorgeous illustration, too! (Take that, Botany of Desire!)
The book's available directly from the National Geographic or in regular bookstores.
It's Botany of Desire on steroids
If you thought Michael Pollan's exploration of four (that's all?) plants was interesting, wait til you see this gorgeous and info-packed journey through all of history with Pollan's four plants plus lots more.
Just to whet our appetites the author has compiled her "Top 10 Plants that Shaped the World":
Black pepper – Demand for this flavoring
set in motion the great voyages of discovery.
Sugarcane – Its sweetness began a shameful trade in human beings
and the plantation system of agriculture.
Corn – The world's third largest plant food source, behind wheat
and rice, corn is now an all-too-common ingredient in human and animal food
Rubber – Its special
properties forever changed the face of transportation, industry, and everyday
life (even though synthetics are now in wide use).
Cotton – Native to both Asia and the Americas, its
seedpods yield a fiber that has clothed the entire world.
Tobacco – Once regarded as a medicinal panacea,
tobacco's highly addictive chemicals have hooked hundreds of millions over the
Opium poppy – Benefit
and bane derive from its flowers, the source of both morphine and heroin.
Potato – This versatile, nutritious food
plan originated in the Americas, but beguiled the Irish; widespread blight led
to mass starvation and flight- and emigration to America.
Cacao – Source of chocolate, from genus Theobroma,
"food of the gods"- need we say more?
Coffee – Roasted beans yield a beverage long at the center of urban
social life, from the London coffeehouses of the 18th century to the Paris cafes
of the 20th and the Starbucks of the 21st.
To Win a Copy
Just leave a comment telling us your plant-geek credentials – not just the resume-stuffers but incidents from your plant-obsessed life, or your aspirations to, with the help of this exact book, be the biggest plant nerd in your tri-county area. Your deadline is 9 pm Eastern tomorrow night, 11/3. The one I like the best (no claims of objectivity here!) wins. Retails for $35, but priceless if you ask me.