Remarkable Plants

Remarkable Plants That Shape Our World

  1. Helen Bynum
  2. William Bynum
  • ISBN 9780500517420
  • 24.60 x 18.60 cm
  • Hardback
  • 240pp
  • 205 Illustrations, 174 in colour
  • First published 2014

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

Remarkable Plants

‘This beautifully illustrated, insightful and well-pitched book will make the ideal gift for plant-obsessed readers’ – The English Garden
‘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
‘… 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
'The book is blessed with the fine design and production values we expect from this publisher'– Daily Telegraph

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.

Helen Bynum studied at University College London and the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine before lecturing in medical history at the University of Liverpool. She is the author of Spitting Blood: The History of Tuberculosis, co-editor with William Bynum of Dictionary of Medical Biography and Great Discoveries in Medicine, and co-editor of the Biographies of Disease series.
William Bynum received his MD from Yale University and his PhD from the University of Cambridge. A Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London, he is professor emeritus of the history of medicine at University College London. His numerous books include The History of Medicine: A Very Short Introduction, A Little History of Science and, as editor, Companion Encyclopedia of the History of Medicine and The Oxford Dictionary of Scientific Quotations.

See the authors' website


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