- Paperback: 476 pages
- Publisher: University Press of the Pacific (August 25, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1410201740
- ISBN-13: 978-1410201744
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,507,874 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Insectivorous Plants Paperback – August 25, 2002
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“Are they needed? To be sure. The Darwinian industry, industrious though it is, has failed to provide texts of more than a handful of Darwin's books. If you want to know what Darwin said about barnacles (still an essential reference to cirripedists, apart from any historical importance) you are forced to search shelves, or wait while someone does it for you; some have been in print for a century; various reprints have appeared and since vanished.”
-Eric Korn,Times Literary Supplement
About the Author
Charles Darwin was an English naturalist and author best-known for his revolutionary theories on the origin of species, human evolution, and natural selection. A life-long interest in the natural world led Darwin to neglect his medical studies and instead embark on a five-year scientific voyage on the HMS Beagle, where he established his reputation as a geologist and gathered much of the evidence that fuelled his later theories.A prolific writer, Darwin s most famous published works include The Voyage of the Beagle, On the Origin of Species, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, and The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals. Darwin died in 1882, and in recognition of his contributions to science, is buried in Westminster Abbey along with John Herschel and Isaac Newton. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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2. This book describes Darwin's studies of how carnivorous plants catch, ingest and digest flies. The experiments are historically significant... and amusing, if only for the interesting forms of gunk used by Darwin to study the plants. Of the 18 chapters, the first 11 deal with one specific variety of sundew, Drosera rotundifolia. The twelfth chapter covers other varieties of sundew. The thirteenth and fourteenth chapters are on the Dionaea Muscipula (Venus fly-trap) and Aldrovanda vesiculosa (an aquatic trap). The fifteenth describes the Drosophyllum lusitanicum (Portuguese sundew), the Roridula dentata, and the Byblis. Chapter 16 covers Butterworts (Pinguicula), while the final two chapters examine Bladderworts (Utricularia).
3. If you are interested in Darwin history: In "Insectivorous Plants," we see Darwin the experimentalist, with his old friends, colleagues and family, uniting in 1874 to catalogue and understand insectivorous plants. Included in the studies are long-time Darwin associates Hooker and Thistelton-Dyer from Kew, Sanderson (experimenting with plant digestion) at University College London, Asa Gray at Harvard, and Darwin's sons. There was some correspondence with Lyell, on this topic, but Lyell's friendship with Darwin had soured, and Lyell died while Darwin worked on this book. This book initially sold more rapidly than The Origin of the Species. Francis "Frank" Darwin met and married Amy Ruck, his first wife during this time. George Romanes, who had studied with Frank at Cambridge, joined the family at this time, and may have had an influence on the book. Darwin also corresponded about such scientific greats as FC Donders. And so Insectivorous Plants will be interesting to those who are familiar with Darwin's life and times. If you want to read Darwin's correspondence during this time, see "The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin" (F. Darwin, 1905, also available online). Chapter 13 covers insectivorous plants. As the book went to press, Darwin wrote Hooker: "You ask about my book, and all that I can say is that I am ready to commit suicide; I thought it was decently written, but find so much wants rewriting, that it will not be ready to go to printers for two months, and will then make a confoundedly big book. Murray will say that it is no use publishing in the middle of summer, so I do not know what will be the upshot; but I begin to think that every one who publishes a book is a fool."
4. If you are interested in evolution, and the the evolution of insectivorous plants: There isn't much if any discussion of evolution in this book. If I'm not mistaken, Darwin took something of a break from evolutionary theory and natural selection when he wrote this book. As far as I know, Darwin didn't spend much time speculating about the evolution of these plants. Apparently, there isn't much of a fossil record of carnivorous plants. As tests of genetic similarity have improved, there has been new speculation about the evolution of carnivores. Some sources: A) Juniper, B. E., Robins, Richard J. and Joel, D. M. (1989). The Carnivorous Plants. London; San Diego, Academic Press. B) Cook, Steve R. (2001). ?When plants kill.? Accessed online: October 10, 2001. (find online) C) Cameron, Kenneth M., Wurdack, Kenneth J. and Jobson, Richard W. (2002). Molecular evidence for the common origin of snap-traps among carnivorous plants. American Journal of Botany. 89(9): 1503-1509. (find online). Barry Rice's new book is due out any day, and I feel confident that it will examine this issue clearly.
5. If you are interested in learning more about carnivorous plants, take a look at the list of sources I'll post under Listmania. I feel confident that the new book by Barry Rice will be an excellent source. There are excellent books to consider that have been authored by Gordon Cheers, Peter D'Amato, Rica Erickson, Barry Juniper et al., Patricia Kite, Francis Lloyd (1940's), Allen Lowrie, Charles Nelson, James & Patricia Pietropaulo, Nick Romanowski, Donald Schnell, Adrian Slack, Dorothy Souza, and others. The new book by Rice is probably the most important new book since Schnell (2002) and D'Amato (1998), both highly recommended. Much depends on your interests and level of knowledge. So stay tuned for my list!