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The Big, Bad Book of Botany

The World's Most Fascinating Flora

About the Book

"A wild ride through the plant world.”--The American Gardener

An entertaining and enlightening compendium of the world's most amazing and bizarre plants, revealing their secrets, history, and lore

What happens when you give a plant a polygraph test? Can a flower really turn a human into a zombie? What gives the gingko tree its stink? The Big, Bad Book of Botany holds the incredible answers to all of these questions and more. From absinthe to zubrowka (a popular ingredient in Polish vodkas), award-winning author Michael Largo takes you through the historical and agricultural evolution of hundreds of plant species, revealing astonishing facts along the way. You'll be introduced to magic mushrooms, superfoods, and toxic teas. You'll learn about plants so valuable they have started international wars, so evolved they can trick animals into helping them survive, and so deadly a single taste of one will kill you. Featuring more than one hundred and forty illustrations, this fascinating and fun A-to-Z encyclopedia for all ages will transform the way you look at the natural world.

Did you know?

  • The word hashish comes from the Arabic hashshashin, the name for a group of Persian assassins who were given the drug to calm their nerves before each assignment.
  • The fossil of the oldest-known tree to have thrived on the planet was found in New York's Catskill Mountains, and dates back to more than 360 million years ago.
  • The avocado, though delicious to humans, is toxic to most animals.
  • Sunflowers grow according to a mathematical formula known as the "golden ratio," and almost always produce exactly 55 or 144 seeds.

Featuring more than 150 photographs and illustrations, The Big, Bad Book of Botany is a fascinating, fun A-to-Z encyclopedia for all ages that will transform the way we look at the natural world.

Educator and Librarian Resources

Critical Praise

“A fascinating journey. ... If you like animals and odd stories and gooey oddities then this one is for you.” —Examiner.com on The Big, Bad Book of Beasts

“An expert guide. ... Delves into truth and lore about our furry friends.” —Miami New Times on The Big, Bad Book of Beasts

“Amazingly entertaining.” —Maxim on Final Exits

“A literary walk through an amazing botanical garden. ... Full of fun facts and surprising legends, the book is a great read for both plant-lovers and novices alike. I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a lot - broccoli will never look the same!” —Dr. Ellen Prager, oceanographer and Safina Center Fellow on The Big, Bad Book of Botany

“A fascinating summary of some of the most famous and important plants grown around the world.” —Dr. F.G. (Eric) Hochberg, Curator Emeritus, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

“This gracefully written book will appeal to general readers interested in botany, who will enjoy browsing information on a wide variety of strange and/or useful plants.” —Library Journal

“In a quirky, alphabetical collection of folklore, traditional botany, growing suggestions, and modern science and nutrition, Largo shares delight in the weird and wonderful corners of the plant world. ... Colorful. ... Largo’s palpable enthusiasm means every page yields something to catch the reader’s interest.” —Publishers Weekly

“Largo has the gift of transforming a nerdy catalog of facts into an apothecary of invigorating information. His encyclopedic knowledge is never an end in itself, but it is always an engine for historical insight and reflection on human nature.” —BookPage

“Not your standard reference book. ... Written with an eye for humor and cocktail-party-friendly trivia, this botanical exploration can serve as a coffee-table piece or conversation starter.” —Shelf Awareness

“All the exuberance of a kid’s garden.” —Wall Street Journal

“A very cool, quirky look at the plant kingdom.” —Miami New Times

“This combination of history, mythology, lore, science and sheer entertainment takes us on a tour of the world’s most unusual plants.” —Sacramento Bee

“[A]n entertaining compendium of unusual plants. Full of history and intriguing cultural tidbits.” —Miami Herald

“[A] compendium of unusual botanical knowledge. … Perfect pre-Halloween reading for gardeners with a slightly twisted take on their flower beds.” —Sacramento Bee

“Wonderfully weird. ... Largo does an excellent job of showing both historical background and present-day uses.” —Garden & Gun

“What happens when a wise-guy plant nut tosses all the amazing, and occasionally really odd, botanical lore he can think of into a well produced book? You get a wild ride through the plant world. ... A real kick to read.” —The American Gardener

“Fascinating. ... A great book to have.” —Steve Young, New York Flora Association

“A useful, thorough A-Z study of the plant kingdom. ... Largo’s amusing anecdotes will interest even people with brown thumbs. ... Fans of Largo... are now assured that it’s a weird, wonderful world.” —Oregonian

Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780062282750
  • ISBN 10: 0062282751
  • Imprint: William Morrow Paperbacks
  • On Sale: 08/05/2014
  • Pages: 416
  • List Price: 23.99 CAD
  • BISAC1: NATURE / Plants / General
  • BISAC2: NATURE / Reference
  • BISAC3: REFERENCE / Curiosities & Wonders

The Big, Bad Book of Botany by Michael Largo

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