Fifty Plants That Changed the Course of History

Fifty Plants That Changed the Course of History

Book - 2010
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The fascinating stories of the plants that changed civilizations.

Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History is a beautifully presented guide to the plants that have had the greatest impact on human civilization. Entries feature a description of the plant, its botanical name, its native range and its primary functions -- edible, medicinal, commercial or practical. Concise text is highlighted by elegant botanical drawings, paintings and photographs as well as insightful quotes.

Many of the plants are well known, such as rice, tea, cotton, rubber, wheat, sugarcane, tobacco, wine grapes and corn . However, there are also many whose stories are less known. These history-changing plants include:

Agave, used to make sisal, poison arrows, bullets, tequila and surgical thread Pineapple, which influenced the construction of greenhouses and conservatories Hemp, used for hangman's rope, sustainable plastics, the Declaration of Independence and Levi's jeans Coconut, used for coir fiber, soap, margarine, cream, sterile IV drips and coagulants Eucalyptus, used in mouthwash, diuretics, vitamins, honey, underwear and fire-resistant uniforms Sweet pea, which Gregor Mendel used in his research on genetic heredity White mulberry, used to make silk English oak, used for fire-resistant structures, dyes, leather tanning, charcoal, casks and ships White willow, used in the manufacture of aspirin, cricket bats, hot-air balloon baskets and coffins

This attractive reference provides an innovative perspective on both botanical and human history.

Publisher: Richmond Hill, Ont. : Firefly Books, 2010.
ISBN: 9781554077984
Characteristics: 223 pages : illustrations (chiefly color), portraits (chiefly color) ; 24 cm


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Nov 17, 2016

A very interesting topic; each entry makes connections to industrial history, nutrition, politics, and many others. I could only wish it was longer and more thorough: unworried, it has a bibliography and list of websites too.

May 04, 2014

I was disappointed. The book was poorly edited, filled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies.

happygirl15 Dec 09, 2011

Good intro to the importance of plants in our lives, culture and history. As a bookaholic, info junkie and gardener, I was looking for more background and history, less anecdotes on each variety, but it did have some new info that I enjoyed.... There is so much more important info on some plants that I missed - Ex: Potatoes. Yes, they originated in So America and were brought to Europe by the Spaniards. There are over 100 varieties in many colors. Potatoes became the superfood of the poor and contributed to the world's population explosion. It was the cultivation of one single variety of potatoe that created the potatoe famine disaster - diversity would have limited the spread of the fungus. History lesson: we need to cultivate and eat multiple varieties of grains other than just wheat. Quinoa, spelt, amaranth anyone?

Nov 24, 2011

it was extremely interesting. a bit of history along w/ each plant. i enjoyed it immensely! shared the title with the gardeners in my family!

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