155. Wicked Plants (Amy Stewart)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013
A friend (I forget just who; possible the Gnome) recommended Wicked Plants shortly after it came out a few years ago and I was intrigued at the time but never got around to it. I then forgot about it. While scrolling through my folder of eBooks, I came across it once again and figured what the hell. The description from Amy Stewart’s official website makes it sound fascinating, filled with horror stories of plants gone wild (so to speak), leaving death and mayhem in their wake:

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. Stewart takes on over two hundred of Mother Nature's most appalling creations in an A to Z of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend. Menacing botanical illustrations and splendidly ghastly drawings create a fascinating portrait of the evildoers that may be lurking in your own backyard. Drawing on history, medicine, science, and legend, this compendium of bloodcurdling botany will entertain, alarm, and enlighten even the most intrepid gardeners and nature lovers.

As I began reading, I became somewhat disappointed in the lack of plant-based horror stories – I was looking for something gruesome and terrifying but what I seemed to have gotten was a book about … plants. Now, I love nature as much as the next person but I wanted something lighthearted and gory, not a botany text. Fortunately, before I knew it, I was halfway through Wicked Plants and was completely hooked. As one reviewer on Amazon.ca wrote:

Unlike 19th-century botanical or herbal treatises, however, this book is not intended as reference. Think of it more as a stroll through a poison garden: you'll encounter many curiosities, learn a few thrilling and appalling things, and may even have your appetite whetted for more information on a few of the specimens. (Vergil Ulam)

While it lacked the gruesome stories I originally thought I wanted, its filled with tidbits about many unsuspecting plants that could kill you as easily as look at you (if plants had eyes that is). By the time I finished, I was afraid to leave my house in case I brushed up against some sort of greenery on my way to the office, I wanted to ditch all my house plants if I wasn’t afraid I’d be poisoned before I made it to the garbage chute, and I’m afraid to eat nuts (cashews can kill!) or chili (red kidney beans too!) ever again.

Looking for something a little unusual that you can power through in a day or two? Lighthearted and funny yet still informative? From cannabis to cacti and everything in between, get yourself a copy of Amy Stewart’s Wicked Plants today.


Eugene Knapik said...

I few years ago I read one of Amy Stewart's books called (I think) From the Ground Up. A lovely book about her first garden, it was one of my reading highlights of that year.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

That sounds compelling! Mind you, after the kitty's last $400 tummy ache, I look at all house plants with suspicion anyway...

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