Author/Gardener Amy Stewart and reader Coleen Marlo have followed up Wicked Plants with a new audiobook detailing the sinister elements that could be lurking in floral bouquets, backyard gardens, or even that plate of vegetables on the dinner table. Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities continues in the vein of Wicked Bugs, giving a brief history of known botanical problems: poison ivy, hemlock, oleander, etc., but also adding tidbits about obscure plants to be assiduously avoided. While Coleen Marlo's playful tone makes the most of Stewart's creative descriptions, both the text and the reader continually emphasize the need for safety and easy access to the phone number for Poison Control when reaction to a plant is ever in question.
Marlo clearly enjoys herself as she reads through "Death by Lawn", "Weeds of Mass Destruction", and "Vegetable Wickedness". It is the little things that are the most interesting, though, such as Marlo's presentation of "ordeal beans", which, for a while in Nigeria became a Monty Python-esque method of determining innocence or guilt through the ingesting the toxic calabar bean. Or how simply passing by a henbane plant could cause folks to swoon, which is why ancient Romans attempted to use the plant as an anesthesia.
Stewart's research encompasses plants that strangle, sicken, sting, cause hives, and in general irritate through their seeds, leaves, fragrance, and oils. Marlo's delivery brings forth the irony and/or humor inherent in plants with names from "vomitwort" and "corpse flower". There are fascinating facts as Stewart details and Marlo presents the sometimes fine line between plant as healer - castor oil from castor beans - to plant as murderer - the horrific poison, ricin, is an extract from that same castor bean plant. There is malevolence to be found in the book from unstoppable water hyacinth vines, fast-growing bushes of purple loosestrife, and the pestilence of killer algae in our oceans. Wicked Plants tells of a world pretty much taken over by insidious plant life, perhaps increasing its sinister control while a human population is distracted by smartphones, computer screens, and iPads. Fortunately for the audiobook aficionados, listeners can remain alert to the encroaching kudzu while enjoying Amy Stewart's highly entertaining writing and Coleen Marlo's enthusiastic descriptions in Wicked Plants. Oh, and remember to avoid exploding plants! Carole Chouinard
Beware! The sordid lives of plants behaving badly. 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. Amy Stewart, best-selling author of Flower Confidential, takes on over 200 of Mother Nature's most appalling creations in an A to Z of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend.
Stewart renders a vivid portrait of evildoers that may be lurking in your own backyard. Drawing on history, medicine, science, and legend, this compendium of bloodcurdling botany will entertain, enlighten, and alarm even the most intrepid gardeners and nature lovers.
©2009 Amy Stewart (P)2011 Tantor
"Culling legend and citing science, Stewart's fact-filled, A-Z compendium of nature's worst offenders offers practical and tantalizing composite views of toxic, irritating, prickly, and all-around ill-mannered plants." (Booklist)
Very nice overview of the "bad plant" world. Interesting anecdotes used to illustrate the plants' vices.
Yes. Well written and a very nice overview.
Steady, straightforward and smooth
Not really the type of book that would be easily transferred into film
Nothing. It's not a book that is meant for audio.
The main theme in this book, to me, seems to be quantity over quality. There are endless plants (and fungi) that are described, but the explanations for each one are so short - a lot of them taught me nothing I hadn't already known. I guess if you know exactly nothing about plants you would probably learn more than I did.
She was given a bad book to read, so maybe it's not her fault. Just didn't like anything about this.
This book was very annoying as an audiobook. I should've looked it up on Amazon first to see how the book was laid out. It might be a good book to keep around (in paper form) for reference, but it is ridiculous to put it to audio. It's like listening to an encyclopedia. Encyclopedia's are good books, but you don't sit and read it cover to cover. You refer to it. Why someone decided this should be an audiobook baffles me. I couldn't even listen to half of it...and any of my friends will tell you I am a bit obsessed with plants, so I (of all people) should've loved this book.
Hate to turn people away from a book about plants. If you really want to get the most out of this, buy a paper copy.
The information is interesting if you can stay awake long enough to get to it. This is, in essence, a dictionary. Not a good audible experience!
There were some interesting anecdotes spread throughout the book.
It didn't really increase my interest in the subject matter.
No, she does not.
When narrating the taxonomy, her voice sounded like an automated message.
This is not a book for plant lovers who enjoy celebrating nature by reading sympathetic and personal relationships with flora such as the works of Michael Pollan or "Weeds" by Richard Mabey. It is simply a compilation of brief descriptions of plants that are harmful to people, their economy or pets. The personal and social notes accompanying the often scary facts appear to be more in service of accentuating the shock value than in in elucidating the natural or social history of the plant in question.
On the other hand, It does cover a wide range of plants throughout the word and provides the botanical names for each species, which is very useful if you want to seek more information about the plant. After listening to the audiobook I ordered a hard copy as a reference book, but it's not on my night table.
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