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Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed…
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Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical… (original 2009; edition 2009)

by Amy Stewart, Briony Morrow-Cribbs (Illustrator), Jonathon Rosen (Illustrator)

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7824411,788 (3.79)65
Member:baobab
Title:Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities
Authors:Amy Stewart
Other authors:Briony Morrow-Cribbs (Illustrator), Jonathon Rosen (Illustrator)
Info:Algonquin Books (2009), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 223 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:Botany, Poison

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Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart (2009)

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Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
I love this book! I first borrowed it from the library and later got my own copy. Firstly, it's beautiful. Secondly, I love the combination of science, lore, and humor. Lots of fascinating facts in a small package, covering botany, history, literature and more. Have you ever wondered what actually caused milk sickness? Read about the mandrake in Harry Potter or Shakespeare's plays? Wanted to know which plant is responsible for the most accidental poisonings? Wondered how Socrates could have been poisoned by an evergreen tree? Then check out this book!
  books333 | Nov 2, 2013 |
Wicked Plants is a fascinating collection of facts and anecdotes about plants that are dangerous. The plants are listed alphabetically with the description of the plant features and their dangerous effects. Most listings are accompanied by an interesting story about how the plant has been harmful, and some contain a social history of the plants legality.

The biggest surprise for me while reading this book was how many common plants, even those we eat, have harmful effects. I learned that cashews, for example, have to be steamed open. If the nut even touches the cashew shell it can cause someone to handles or eats it to break out in a rash. Another is celery, which contains phototoxic compounds.

"Farm workers and handlers of celery routinely get burns on their skin that show up under sunlight, and people who eat large quantities of celery are at risk as well. One medical journal cited a case of a woman who ate celery root and then went to a tanning booth, ending up with a severe sunburn." Page 96


The book covers a wide range of plants, from those that are developed into illegal drugs, such as coca (the source of cocaine) to common house and garden plants that are lethal. I was fascinated by the history of the usage of some plants, such as the coca plant and the kola nut, both the original ingredients in Coca-Cola.

". . . coca extract is still believed to be a flavoring, just without the cocaine alkaloid. The leaves are legally imported by an American manufacturer, which buys it from Peru's National Coca Company, transforms it into Coca-Cola's secret flavoring, and extracts the cocaine for pharmaceutical use as a topical anesthetic." Page 22


Each plant has its own small section, making it a book that is easy to pick up and read when you have a few spare moments. I had a hard time stopping myself from pestering my husband with some of the stories because there were so unusual.

The illustrations were lovely. I am not a plant expert, so I don't think I would actually be able to identify the plants from the monochromatic drawings, but they were nice to look at. There is also a ribbon bookmark built into the book, which I thought was a nice feature.

If you have any interest in plants, or simply have a morbid curiosity about the many ways that plants can hurt and kill you, then you should love this book. ( )
  akreese | May 16, 2013 |
I may never garden, hike or go outside again! Eeeeek! They are out to get us, and I'm not sure how we've survived this long. If you don't get the lesson by the end of this book that it's a bad idea to go on a tasting spree with unknown (and often known) plants, then you never will, and the best of luck to you. On the other hand, this was a compelling read, I thought with each poisonous plant I read about, well, that has to be the worst, the rest can't possibly be as bad as that, then I would read on to find that one of my plant darlings was a horrible serial murderer's tool, and sometimes a willing accomplice! The artwork and illustrations are perfect, the quality of the published book fine. It was a pleasure to hold and turn the pages. In the back of the book she lists botanical gardens which feature wicked plants, and one of them is in the garden of the castle which was used as Hogwarts in the filming of the first two movies. Nice. ( )
1 vote MrsLee | Apr 29, 2013 |
I enjoyed reading this book and think it would be a good fit for anyone who likes to gather trivia. Lots of common plants that we see daily are featured here and will make you take a second look at the gorgeous garden next doorl ( )
  SparklePonies | Apr 25, 2013 |
I found this kind of repetitive and... well, frankly, a little boring. I wanted more stories about real people, on the order of the Lincoln's mom story. There were lots of little informative bits, but not as many anecdotes as I thought I'd be getting. I was also a little skeptical of some of the information, especially on psychedelic plants. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
Wicked Plants is a stroll down a garden path of dread. Some of the most beloved and innocent plants in our own personal edens are villains at their core...Some 3,900 people in the U.S. are injured every year by poking around electrical outlets, while more than 68,000 are poisoned by plants...
added by SqueakyChu | editToronto Star, Leslie Scrivener (Jul 11, 2009)
 
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Would not the earth, quickened to an evil purpose by the sympathy of his eye, greet him with poisonous shrubs...Would he not suddenly sink into the earth, leaving a barren and blasted spot, where, in due course of time, would be seen deadly nightshade, dogwood, henbane, and whatever else of vegetable wickedness the climate could produce, all flourishing with hideous luxuriance?
--Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
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A tree sheds poison daggers; a glistening red seed stops the heart; a shrub causes intolerable pain; a vine intoxicates; a leaf triggers a war.
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(from the back of the book) A tree that sheds poison daggers; a glistening red seed that stops the heart; a shrub that causes paralysis; a vine that strangles; and a leaf that triggered a war. Amy Stewart, bestselling author of Flower Confidential, takes on over two hundred of Mother Nature's most appalling creations in an A to Z of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend. Menacing botanical illustrations render a ghastly portrait of evildoers that may be lurking on your own backyard. Drawing on history, medicine, science, and legend, this compendium of bloodcurdling botany will entertain, enlighten, and alarm even the most intrepid gardeners and nature lovers.
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Stewart takes on more than 200 of Mother Nature's most appalling creations and offers this A-to-Z compendium of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend.

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Amy Stewart is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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