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In this little book of horrors, Chris Thorogood reveals the weird, the wonky, and the sinister specimens he has encountered during his travels in the wide world of plants. Far from passively absorbing the sun’s rays, these plants kill, steal and kidnap, making them dynamic participants in the ecosystems around them. From orchids that duplicitously look, feel and even smell like a female insect to bamboozle sex-crazed male bees to giant pitcher plants that have evolved toilets for tree shrews to carnivorous plants that drug, drown, and consume unsuspecting insect prey, Weird Plants takes us deep inside the worlds of plants whose imaginative and calculating survival methods are startlingly reminiscent of human schemes.
To guide us through these unfamiliar plantscapes, Thorogood has organized his book into seven categories fit for a horror film: Vampires, Killers, Fraudsters, Jailers, Accomplices, Survivors, and Hitchhikers. These categories take us through a variety of plant life and around the world, documenting the remote corners where many of these specimens are found. Through the combination of Thorogood’s oil paintings and botanical expertise, these fantastic plants come alive on the page.
About the Author
Chris Thorogood is a botanist at the University of Oxford. He is the author of Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of the Western Mediterranean and coauthor of Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of the Algarve, both also published by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
"this weird and wonderful assortment of plants lovingly captured in Thorogood's oil paintings is far more unusual than any science fiction offering. Some are beautiful, some are macabre, but all demonstrate the incredible strategies that plants need to survive."
— Saga Magazine
"[Thorogood] has been making a name for himself as the kind of botanist that can engage nearly anyone in plants . . . His latest book, Weird Plants, is a case in point. Lavishly illustrated by Thorogood (who loves depicting botanical oddities as much as he does finding them), the book offers an intriguing and accessible insight into plants such as rafflesia, hydnora and welwitschia, which continue to fascinate plant biologists to this day."
— The Daily Telegraph
"This finely illustrated book is intended to draw attention to the range of plants that might be less than pleasant to observe or even to grow, but which nonetheless display fascinating evolutionary adaptation. . . . Offering insight into important biological processes, many of these plants grow in vulnerable habitats and so are worthy of wider attention."
— The English Garden
“Thorogood paints a full picture of the plants that have often been overlooked and dismissed as simply ‘weird’ looking, and draws us into the reasons behind their strange and perhaps quite frightening appearance. This isn’t a book about pretty wallflowers who sit on the sidelines waiting to be attended to. These are rude plants. They’ve got backbone. The book opens us up to a world where plants are seen in a new light. Where we have new insight into their true colors for the first time.”
"It is both beautiful and easy to read, and serves as a stepping stone to further botanical investigation ... This is a book to inspire any reader and one that would be welcomed as a gift."
— The Garden
“A boldly illustrated and showy collection of plant marvels such as this can be a very effective way to engage readers of all ages. It also serves as an excellent reminder of why more experienced botanists might have gotten interested in the field. Every reader will have to engage the question: What makes something ‘weird’? Perhaps it simply captures the imagination or maybe it deeply stirs that fundamental mystery in our soul. Either way, while happily lost in the world of Weird Plants, the reader is allowed to anthropomorphize wildly—to image a constellation of plant motives and personalities battling it out for survival.”
— Economic Botany