"Highly entertaining…Without being sentimental approximately it, Mr. Mabey will get us to examine existence from the crops' standpoint. His technology is sound, he is witty, and his language is engaging." ―Constance Casey, New York Times
The Cabaret of Plants is a masterful, globe-trotting exploration of the connection among people and the dominion of vegetation by means of the well known naturalist Richard Mabey.
A wealthy, sweeping, and fantastically readable paintings of botanical background, The Cabaret of Plants explores dozens of plant species that for millennia have challenged our imaginations, awoken our ask yourself, and upturned our rules approximately historical past, technology, attractiveness, and trust. Going again to the beginnings of human heritage, Mabey exhibits how plant life, bushes, and vegetation were valuable to human adventure not only as resources of nutrition and medication yet as items of worship, actors in construction myths, and logos of conflict and peace, existence and death.
Writing in a celebrated variety that the Economist calls “delightful and casually learned,” Mabey takes readers from the Himalayas to Madagascar to the Amazon to our personal backyards. He levels in the course of the paintings of writers, artists, and scientists comparable to da Vinci, Keats, Darwin, and van Gogh and throughout approximately 40,000 years of human heritage: Ice Age photographs of flora in historical cave paintings and the earliest representations of the backyard of Eden; Newton’s apple and gravity, Priestley’s sprig of mint and photosynthesis, and Wordsworth’s daffodils; the historical past of cultivated vegetation equivalent to maize, ginseng, and cotton; and the methods the good oak grew to become the emblem of British nationhood and the large sequoia got here to epitomize the spirit of America.
Complemented by way of dozens of full-color illustrations, The Cabaret of Plants is the magnum opus of a good naturalist and a rare exploration of the deeply interwined heritage of people and the normal world.
35 colour illustrations
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Extra resources for The Cabaret of Plants: Forty Thousand Years of Plant Life and the Human Imagination
Its area of interest may be as substantial as an island continent, or as small as a cave. the single qualification is that there aren't any files of the plant happening of its personal accord in wild haunts in different places. Endemism is an ambivalent existential nation. it could characterize the final rites for a wild species (as it did for Wood’s cycad), bedded down in one weak, vanishing habitat without long term destiny. Or a brand new degree in its evolution, because it adapts genetically to a brand new safe haven. Endemism remains to be a situation during which species input and go out the realm, as Charles Darwin came upon with the finches at the Galapagos Islands which have been so an important in forming his concept of evolution. Sibthorp and Bauer’s flowers Graeca expeditions supplied early proof of Crete’s endemics. Their occasion landed at Chania, at the north coast, in April 1786 and instantly set approximately exploring the mountains and gorges inland. at the partitions and surrounding rocks of St John the Hermit monastery they discovered many of the island’s specialities: [W]e accrued the Ebony of Crete [Ebenus creticus] the white Fleabane [Conyza candida] the Immortal of the East [Gnaphalium orientale] whereas the delicate cotonny Dictamny [Origanum dictamnus] carpetted its facets, one of the Rocks we chanced on many different curious vegetation which the licentious Goats & the burning solar had spared us … A Plant that happy me peculiarly the remaining was once Stahelina arborea of which we introduced off a Tree coated with its flora & shining with its silver Leaves. with out relatively realising it the pair had struck a seam of crops specified to Crete. T. doerfleri used to be in neither plants Graeca nor vegetation Europaea, released greater than a century later. it can be the most lately advanced endemics. It was once recognized as a special species in simple terms past due within the 20th century, having been formerly lumped in with the very comparable T. orphanidea. This species differs mainly in its chromosomal pairings and grows in Greece and western Turkey. Like T. doerfleri it really is an ‘archaeophyte’ – that's, now not a real local species yet brought, intentionally or unintentionally, by means of early settlers. alterations in behaviour, for example constructing the behavior of mimicking an annual, frequently take place with species that turn into entangled with techniques of cultivation and are topic to strange environmental pressures and choice strategies. nobody is familiar with the authentically wild ancestor of those tulips (T. kurdica from northern Iraq may be a candidate), yet it is easy to think its adaptable offspring relocating north-west with the 1st farmers. One pressure turned remoted on a secluded Cretan plateau and, over quite a few thousand years, advanced right into a specified species. The Cretan endemic tulip, Tulipa doerfleri, growing to be as a box weed. different Cretan endemics are like dialect diversifications of a well-recognized vegetal thesaurus. The woody goosegrass, Galium fruticosum, has lengthy, sticky tendrils rising from an outstanding trunk, like a jester’s whip with a deal with. there's a hugely neighborhood St John’s wort, Hypericum jovis, constrained to the god Jove’s redoubts in excessive mountain cliffs and gorges.