Botanical Reading Recommendations


Hi everyone, I’m Claire, and I’m back for
Brilliant Botany episode two with some summer reading recommendations from some of my favorite
botany-related books. Now for my first recommendation, I couldn’t
pick one of Amy Stewart’s books, so I have three of them. Amy Stewart is a science writer
who typically writes about plants–she also has a book Wicked Bugs which I don’t own because
I’m more of a plant person–but the first of these is Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart,
which is a really great, it’s almost like a reference, you could definitely read it
through, but it’s basically a history of plant poisons, and their different uses. Ranging
from food, to weapons, to famous people who have died, all sorts of things. And it’s actually
a really gorgeous book. It’s a really nice hardback. I’m a book geek so I really like
it for that. And it has really great illustrations. The second of these is, the first one I read
by her, is Flower Confidential and this is the good, the bad and the beautiful of the
cut flower industry around the world. It talks about breeding blue roses, breeding the Stargazer
Lily, which I mentioned in my last video, how roses are cultivated and shipped from
Ecuador, Guatamala, all around the world. It’s super interesting, super well-written,
it’s more of a narrative than a science book which is something that I really love about
it. The third of these is The Drunken Botanist
by Amy Stewart, her newest book, and similar to Wicked Plants it’s a really gorgeous hardback
with great illustrations. And it is little anecdotes, and each chapter or section is
a different plant and how alcohol is derived from it. So it’s basically any alcohol you
can think of is in here with back stories. Fruitless Fall by Rowan Jacobsen, the collapse
of the honey bee and the coming agricultural crisis. It was published in 2008, so it’s
a little bit outdated in terms of talking about colony collapse disorder, the disease
or condition that was striking all of the world’s–or at least the United States’–bees
a couple of years ago. It is a very great book if you want to learn about how bees work
and communication and hives; it’s very great. As you can see, I have lots of post-it notes
in it, because plants and bees, both very important.
This is one of my absolute favorite books, The Wild Trees by Richard Preston. It’s about
Coastal Redwood research in Northern California and how that started within the last couple
of decades. And the men and women who started that area of research. One of the first researchers,
Steve Sillett, free-climbed into a redwood canopy without any gear just to stand in the
crown of a redwood, and it’s believed that he was one of, or the first man to stand in
the crown of a redwood tree. This is more of a practical recommendation,
this is Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide, mostly based in Northeastern America, I’m sure it
reaches up a little bit into Canada. It’s what I’ve used in my plant systematics courses
to identify plants. It’s a really great, easy-to-use guide, so even if you aren’t a botanist and
don’t know that much about plants, you can use it to identify stuff in your area. You
basically need to be able to tell how many petals a plant has, how its leaves are arranged,
which will be explained to you in the book, and what shape those leaves are, also explained
to you in the book in terms of options. And then it leads you through questions, so you
figure out using pictures and descriptions what plant it is you’re looking at.
And there you have it, some summer reading recommendations if, like me, you have some
down time right now. And if there’s a particular topic you’re looking for a book on, drop a
note in the comments and I’ll see if I can come up with a recommendation for you.
Similarly, if you have any botany-related questions leave those in the comments and
I’ll answer them in a future video.