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Remarkable Plants That Shape Our World

Helen Bynum, William Bynum

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A glorious celebration of the beauty, diversity, importance and sheer wonder of the most remarkable plants that shape our world, with exquisite illustrations from the incomparable collections of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

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Plants feed us, clothe us, shelter us, help transport us, and can both intoxicate and cure us. From food staples to exotic and enchanting flowers, plants are essential for the wellbeing of our selves and our planet.

Helen and William Bynum are expert guides to the intriguing histories and uses of over 80 key plants. Rich in cultural, historical, botanical and symbolic associations, the plants, from every corner of the globe – both familiar and bizarre – have fascinating stories to tell. Starting with foods that laid the foundations for the development of civilizations, such as wheat, rice and maize, and those that enliven our diet, such as saffron and spices, sections look at plants that have helped to create our material world, including bamboo and the oak, and crops that have made people rich, such as tea, coffee and sugar cane. Many plants have been used medicinally and others, for instance eucalyptus or giant redwoods, have come to epitomize entire landscapes. Some are the objects of obsession, including the tulip, the rose and the lotus, and some are distinctly strange, such as the world’s largest flower, rafflesia, which smells of rotting flesh!

For anyone interested in the extraordinary beauty and diversity of flora around us, this stunning book, illustrated with botanical drawings, paintings and artworks will be an inspiration and a delight.

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'An accessible introduction to the field of economic botany … stands as a rewarding artefact in its own right, emanating the authors’ quintessentially human passion for plants and their uses'
Gardens Illustrated

'This beautifully illustrated, insightful and well-pitched book will make the ideal gift for plant-obsessed readers'
The English Garden

'The book is blessed with the fine design and production values we expect from this publisher'
Daily Telegraph

'With 205 exquisite illustrations, this book is beautiful … From rice to rhubarb and aloe to indigo, these plants make life work. And this book is one you should buy'
The Field

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 24.6 x 18.6 cm

Extent: 240 pp

Illustrations: 205

Publication date: 22 September 2014

ISBN: 9780500517420

Contents List

Transformers • Taste • Heal and Harm • Technology and Power • Cash Crops • Landscapes • Revered and Adored • Wonders of Nature

About the Author

Helen Bynum is a historian of science and medicine and also has a particular interest in gardening and plants and their importance in human culture and society. Together with her husband William Bynum she has written or edited numerous books, including Great Discoveries in Medicine and Remarkable Plants.

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