Cover image for Plant discoveries : a botanist's voyage through plant exploration
Plant discoveries : a botanist's voyage through plant exploration
Knapp, Sandra.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Toronto : Firefly Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
336 pages : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Subject Term:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QK50 .K48 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

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The history of plants and flowers.

Botanical paintings and fascinating essays are combined in Plant Discoveries to examine the fascinating history of plants and flowers. Over 20 plant families are profiled including cacti, daffodils, iris, magnolia, poppies, roses, tulips, conifers, hibiscus, palms and waterlilies.

Throughout history, plants have dramatically affected the lives of individuals and society as a whole. Holland's infamous tulip craze is now legend. The 17th century spice trade was so profitable that stevedores who unloaded nutmeg from the boats were obliged to wear coveralls without pockets since only a few nutmegs were worth a fortune.

The natural history of the plants themselves is an engrossing topic. The book suggests that plants take a more active role in their survival than commonly assumed. It discusses how plants have adopted remarkable strategies for survival in a variety of harsh habitats. One such plant is the dead horse arum -- a putrid-smelling plant that adapted to compete with dead birds to attract pollinating carrion flies.

Plants that gardeners now take for granted once could only be found in remote and hostile regions. Plant Discoveries tells the fascinating story of the adventurous botanist explorers who braved disease, slave traders, war, jungles and other dangers to collect plants now commonly grown in our own backyards.

These pages are graced with hundreds of stunning color illustrations selected from the vast collection of botanical paintings archived at the Natural History Museum, London. Plant Discoveries is an exciting voyage of discovery and a must-have volume for lovers of art, botany, and adventure.

Author Notes

Sandra Knapp is an editor of Flora Mesoamerica at the Natural History Museum in London. She has collected plants for the Missouri Botantical Garden and also spent time at the Institute for Botanical Exploration at the Mississippi State University.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Before there were digital cameras producing detailed photographs, botanists relied on the pens and palettes of virtuoso artists who accompanied intrepid explorers on their ambitious, and frequently dangerous, plant-collecting expeditions. In a sweeping and sumptuous examination of this fortunate synergy,napp unlocks the resources of London's Natural History Museum to profile the influential plants that populate today's suburban gardens and urban conservatories and the artists who brought them to life. An internationally acclaimed botanist and taxonomy expert,napp presents the legend and the lore, the data and the details behind more than 20 common and exotic plant families, highlighted by exceptional, never-before-published treasures from the museum's extensive archives. As enlightening as it is entertaining, intriguing as it is informative, this sweeping guide reveals the timeless enchantment of exquisite botanical art. From the awe-inspiring alien allure of cacti to the opulent lushness of peonies,napp's commanding discourse pays homage to the artists and scientists who endeavored to preserve and protect the world's exquisite and fragile floral treasures. --Carol Haggas Copyright 2004 Booklist

Library Journal Review

Botanical artworks not only depict beauty but are also a science unto themselves. Before the advent of cameras, these exquisitely detailed images were the only way that explorers could convey the living appearance of new plants found in their travels. Botanist Knapp (Natural History Museum, London) uses reproductions from the rich botanical art collections of her institution to showcase the splendor and unique qualities of 20 widely assorted plant families, from grasses to tulips. But Knapp goes beyond the call of duty, taking readers on a voyage of discovery through the history of botany and plant collection, biographies of botanical artists, and explanations of how individual plants have adapted to diverse environments. Although this is not a systematic text on botany, readers will learn quite a bit about botany and plants while being entertained. A lovely book that should interest fans of Michael Pollan's The Botany of Desire or Shirley Sherwood's A Passion for Plants; recommended for all libraries. [A BOMC, Garden Book Club, and Discovery Book Club selection.]-Marit MacArthur Taylor, Auraria Lib., Denver (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Knapp, a renowned botanist with the National History Museum, London, has written a delightful series of essays on some common plants. Among the families she profiles are peonies, water lilies, cacti, magnolias, roses, palms, conifers, poppies, irises, and tulips. Knapp writes informally about ethnobotany, plant exploration, botanical artists, and plant reproduction. The book is profusely illustrated with stunning botanical paintings selected from the vast collection archived at the National History Museum. It concludes with a section on scientific names, biographies of noted botanical artists, a selected bibliography, and an index of both plants and illustrations. This volume is a real treat for everyone keen on botanical art and lore. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General readers; lower-level undergraduates through faculty. L. W. Roberts emeritus, University of Idaho