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Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities Hardcover – May 21, 2009
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More About the Author
Stewart has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and many other newspapers and magazines, and has appeared frequently on National Public Radio, CBS Sunday Morning, and--just once--on TLC's Cake Boss. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, the American Horticulture Society's Book Award, and an International Association of Culinary Professionals Food Writing Award.
Top Customer Reviews
I consider "Wicked Plants" an excellent reference except for two drawbacks. First, it doesn't have an index. If, for example, you remember that XXX was dangerous you'd have to flip through the entire book to find it. Second, there are no color photos for the plants discussed, only pencil sketches are shown.
In summary, this book is not a complete reference nor is it a typical book either. However, "Wicked Plants" balances entertainment, fact, and myths about plants and related "items" of the natural world in one neat little package.
I gave this book three stars because of the absence of an index and no color pictures. However, I still consider this a worthwhile purchase. If it had these items, I would have given it 4-1/2 to 5 stars. If you have a Kindle, then the Kindle edition would resolve the lack of an index because of its search capability.
Since I intend to use this book as one of several valuable references in my library, I am sharing below the alphabetical list of the plants or fungus outlined in the 2009 version of the hardcover book that I created for myself. Please note that this list is not all inclusive as it excludes the scientific names and the "meet the relatives" plants that were mentioned throughout the text. This list is also messy due to the lack of tabbing ability in this review.Read more ›
|Length: 4:18 Mins|
I'm a pro gardener and a total plant geek, so reading all about the wicked deeds of the plants I know and love (and learning some new ones as well!) was a blast. But you don't have to know or even care much about plants to enjoy this book.
Amy blends the human stories and the plant details with such humor and depth that even the black-thumbed among us will enjoy reading. As she says, "I looked for plants that had an interesting backstory. There had to be a victim - a body count."
She goes on, "These are plants you do not want to meet in a dark alley." Indeed not. When I read about Mussolini's guys chasing Communists down the streets with bottles of castor oil, a laxative made from the beautiful but deadly Castor Bean, I just howled with laughter. Earlier, I'd read with bated breath how the KGB injected a tiny pellet of ricin, from the same plant, into Communist defectors to murder them. I think I'd prefer being chased by the Fascists!
The book itself is gorgeously done, with hand-drawn copper etchings of the plants, brown detailing on the pages which makes it look deliciously ancient, and one of those cool ribbon bookmarks. It would make a great gift book, and indeed, I've already bought three copies to give to friends - it's just that nice of a book.
I'm lucky enough to live locally to Amy Stewart, and she invited me to do a video review of the book in her Wicked Plants-inspired poison garden. In the video, Amy introduces us to a few of the botanical miscreants she writes about. Check it out!
"Wicked Plants" is a nicely illustrated, upbeat examination of vegetation that can kill, addict, torment and torture. There's nothing benign about that philodendron wending its steady, picturesque way around your mantle. As for that undercooked kidney bean, eat five like it and you'll think you ate a peck of rotten clams. Nature knows no shame. Heart failure, paralysis, vomiting, psychosis, skin ulcers and other horrors, including death, can be induced from plants in your own backyard. Every mystery writer in search of the perfect murder should buy a copy of "Wicked Plants."
Amy Stewart's storytelling talents, combined with her subject matter, make her the Stephen King of gardening lore. About hemlock, she writes:
"The death that hemlock delivers is, from outward appearances, an easy one. Mr. Gow [his children accidentally made him a sandwich with poison hemlock greens] stumbled about drunkenly, his limbs gradually became paralyzed, and eventually the poison stopped his heart and lungs. The doctor attending the death reported that `the Intellect was perfectly clear until shortly before death.'"
While most gardeners pore over seed catalogs, anti-gardeners gather indisputable arguments for inertia from Stewart's book. In her chapter on offensive plants and social misfits, she points to the stench of the skunk cabbage, the wet dog scent of the stinking benjamin, the repugnant emissions of the rare corpse flower. Ingest a bit of slobber weed and prepare for the onslaught of a couple of pints of saliva.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My students really enjoy this book. I find it interesting as well.Published 4 hours ago by dhuggins
Bought one from a friend's wish list and one for me. Book was OK but I was not that impressed with it.Published 4 days ago by Sheila Johnson
I bought this as a gift for my Dad; he is an intellectual and enjoys gardening in his old age. I hope he enjoys it. It was received in good condition, brand new.Published 18 days ago by Sean Karim Rohit
Well written - both educational & entertaining!
I love the information contained in this book, the aesthetics of the pages, everything! I'll be buying the others soon.Published 1 month ago by LanaChristine