The Cabaret of Plants

Richard Mabey

Book cover: The Cabaret of Plants First published in 2015 By Profile Books ISBN: 9781847654014

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Summary

In Richard Mabey's characteristically lyrical and informative tone, The Cabaret of Plants explores plant species which have challenged our imaginations, awoken that clichéd but real human emotion of wonder, and upturned our ideas about history, science, beauty and belief.

Picked from every walk of life, they encompass crops, weeds, medicines, religious gathering-places and a water lily named after a queen. Beginning with pagan cults and creation myths, the cultural significance of plants has burst upwards, sprouting into forms as diverse as the panacea (the cure-all plant ginseng, a single root of which can cost up to $10,000), Newton's apple, the African 'vegetable elephant' or boabab, whose swollen trunks store thousands of litres of water - and the mystical, night-flowering Amazonian cactus, the moonflower.

From Ice Age artists, to the Romantic poets, via colonialism and the nineteenth century botanical mania of empire, Mabey concludes his magnum opus with the latest revelations of possible 'plant intelligence' in this extraordinary collection of encounters between plants and people.

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