REVIEW: Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart

REVIEW: Wicked Plants by Amy StewartWicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart
Published by Algonquin Books (2009), Hardcover, 236pg
Filed under: Adult, History, Non-Fiction
Got my copy from: ALA 2012
Buy your own copy at Amazon or BookDepository (affiliate links | info) or add it to your Goodreads shelf

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A tree that sheds poison daggers; a glistening red seed that stops the heart; a shrub that causes paralysis; a vine that strangles; and a leaf that triggered a war. Stewart takes on over two hundred of Mother Nature’s most appalling creations in an A to Z of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend.

Menacing botanical illustrations and splendidly ghastly drawings create a fascinating portrait of the evildoers that may be lurking in your own backyard. Drawing on history, medicine, science, and legend, this compendium of bloodcurdling botany will entertain, alarm, and enlighten even the most intrepid gardeners and nature lovers. (from Amazon)

I have been wanting to read this book FOR AGES. Because look at it! Just the cover alone tells you this is a really good book. And once you read what’s inside those– aha! Yes, it’s a really good book.

What makes it so darned good, you ask? Well, to start with it’s all about deadly/intoxicating/dangerous plants! How exciting is THAT? I’m not talking just about poison ivy or anything (although that’s in here); I’m talking about things like monkshood and corn(!) and the titan arum, which smells like a dead body! Things like walnuts and castor beans and curare, deadly trees and vicious flowers and almost everything inbetween. After reading Wicked Plants I feel extremely well-up on what not to touch while in the wild (basically, oh, EVERYTHING).

Another reason it’s such a good book is in the way the info is presented! It’s almost like a kind of dictionary or encylopedia, only grouped by the effects various plants have instead of by name or family or what have you. This makes reading it less boring than if it were actually a dictionary. The author also sticks in some pop culture references and interesting/exciting plant-related stories, which livens up the text even more.

Maybe if you’re boring and don’t like learning about the natural world we live in and how scary-awesome it is, you wouldn’t like this book. But if you want to get your botany groove on and have a good time doing so, you NEED to get a copy of this book.

Read: November 11-14, 2012

There’s a book playlist created by the author over at Largehearted Boy.

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4 Comments

  1. I like how you label people who don’t want to read about nature “boring”. I wholeheartedly agree. :) I loved this book too and I wish I had retained a lot more of what I read but really the takeaway is DON’T TOUCH PLANTS. I did absorb that piece of knowledge. :)

  2. I don’t want to blow up your worldview, but I am both not boring AND mildly disinclined to read about botany. It’s not that I don’t find it interesting; I just don’t find it the most interesting ever, and other things I find more interesting. PLEASE STILL LIKE ME.

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