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The Nature of Plants: Habitats, Challenges, and Adaptations Hardcover – Illustrated, February 1, 2005

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Whether they procreate courtesy of fire or flying insects, bury their roots in sand or salt, thrive in toxicity or bask in treetops, many plants demonstrate a prodigious ability to adapt to punitive conditions and external provocations. In this superlative and erudite resource, the authors present the causes and effects of such biological modifications through a vivid and intricate investigation of the realm of environmental challenges plants must overcome to survive. From the frigid wastelands of the arctic tundra to the parched expanses of unyielding deserts, habitats that cannot support other life forms frequently manage to manifest hospitable conditions sufficient to support some forms of plant life. Positioning their findings within a broad context that examines evolutionary patterns, climatological conditions, and geographic influences, the authors provide pertinent background information, thereby enhancing one's understanding and appreciation of plants' tenacious characteristics. Although written in a clear and approachable manner, this scholarly exploration is best suited to the serious student of botany and horticulture. Carol Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


Explores the love-hate relationships that plants have with animals, some feeding on plants but others drawn into serving plants by pollinating them, scattering their fruits and seeds, or being eaten themselves. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation 20050510 The book, studded with stunning photographs, is divided into nine botanically based but very readable chapters. -- Lynne Terry Oregonian 20050505 Tells dramatic stories of how plants struggle throughout their lives, how they adapt to their often-inhospitable surroundings, and how they change when their surroundings change. Science News 20050521 This is a beautifully written and illustrated book. Many of the photographs of plants and their habitats are simply magnificent ... It should fan enthusiasm for the world's plants and for conservation of them and their habitats. -- Dr. Peter Myerscough National Parks Association of New South Wales, Australia 20050701 Intelligent and knowledgeable prose. ... The writing is informative and will open up the eyes of those determined to grow plants well, in a setting most suited for the genus or species, and where they will have room ... to set seed and spread. TheBookPlace.co.uk 20050926 A plant lover's dream. ... Recommended for anyone with an interest in plants and their ability to survive in even the harshest of climates. All topics are explained with diverse examples and fantastic color photographs. -- Lee Luckeydoo Sida, Contributions to Botany 20060701

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 314 pages
  • Publisher: Timber Press, Incorporated; 1st Ed. edition (February 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881926752
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881926750
  • Product Dimensions: 10.4 x 1 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,716,738 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Most of the color photographs are by co-author Rob Lucas. They are just sumptuous--stunning even--and carefully chosen, and illustrative of the great diversity of plant life on earth. There is a slight bias in favor of the unique biota of New Zealand which is understandable since Lucas is from New Zealand. He and his colleague, UC Berkeley botany PhD John Dawson, have written several books on the flora of New Zealand, one of which won the Natural Heritage Prize. This book too ought to win some sort of prize since it is so gorgeously illustrated, so engagingly written, and so carefully edited.

They take the widest possible focus in introducing the reader to plants from around the world and from many different habitats, from deserts to swamps, from the Arctic to the Amazon. They begin in the first chapter, "The Freeloaders: Plants Using Plants," with parasitic plants such as the tree-dwelling epiphytes, of which the familiar mistletoe is an example. This sets the tone for the book, the idea being to show how plants make a living in the world and how they interact with other plants and with animals, and how they meet the challenges of their environments. In other words, as the title has it, the authors explain and illustrate "The Nature of Plants." As such this book is an excellent introduction to the nontechnical aspects of botany, giving the reader the sort of information about plants that would especially appeal to weekend gardeners and others (like myself) who love plants but have had no academic training in botany.

However, this is no "plants for dummies" sort of book.
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Format: Hardcover
As my fellow Top 50 reviewer, Dennis Littrell, has already said it better than I, I just wanted to add a brief comment, mainly because a few years ago I once spent a wonderful three weeks travelling around New Zealand observing its plant and animal life, and many of the examples of plants in the photos are from this country, since one of the authors is from there, and I've seen much of New Zealand's fascinating and diverse fauna and flora myself.

As Dennis mentions, the photographs are superb, along with the well written and interesting text. The book is not just about the local flora however, as the author discusses interesting and important plants from around the world.

One major difference between the ecologies of the northern and southern hemisphere is that conifers forests dominate the north, whereas the large climax trees in the south, especially in South American and New Zealand, are southern hemisphere hardwood beech trees, of which there are a number of species. Although not as tall or as massive as the sequoias and redwoods of the Pacific Coast, they can still grow to over 200 feet in height.

Interestingly, 60 million years ago the giant sequoias and redwoods were circumpolar and once dominated the whole northern hemisphere boreal forests, but today are restricted to just a few strips of land in California and Oregon. No one knows why such huge and seemingly invulnerable trees as sequioas, which can have bark several feet thick, can hardly be killed by fire, are impervious to insects because of their thick and tannic acid rich bark, and which are the largest living things, have been dying off.

Although, as I said, the book isn't just about New Zealand plant life, I have to add a fascinating tidbit about that.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thought I was getting a book that was in very good condition. Instead, almost every page is marked up - and not just a little. There is ink everywhere. Opening up to random pages gets me to a page that will be marked up 4 out of 5 times, on average. I like the content of the book, but I did find an error. The author has a beautiful picture of *Pontederia cordata* on page 168, but he calls it *Eichhornia crassipes*. *Eichhornia crassipes* is water hyacinth, not pickerelweed. If there is a newer version of this book, hopefully the author will correct this.
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