Fifty Plants That Changed the Course of History

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9780715338544: Fifty Plants That Changed the Course of History

From the crops that have fed billions of people over the centuries, to the plants highly regarded for their medicinal qualities, this informative volume unearths the stories behind some of the world's best-known plants.

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About the Author:

Bill Laws is a writer, editor and journalist who specialises in homes, gardens and landscapes. He is the author of ten books including Common Losses: Essays and Interviews on Trees, Woods and the Green Man. Bill's work has featured in the Guardian and Telegraph newspapers as well as various BBC publications, Environment Now and Period House. He is based in Herefordshire, England.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction

What greater delight is there than to behold the earth apparelled with plants, as with a robe of embroidered worke, set with Orient pearles and garnished with great diversitie of rare and costly jewels?
-- John Gerard. Herbal, 1597

If the world's plants suddenly expired, we would have no tomorrow. Yet it is easy to dismiss plants as the silent witnesses to our progress on the planet. The world nurtures between 250,000 and 300,000 types of flowering plants and they can seem like a pretty backcloth to our remorseless activity: walking a dog through a forest of quiet oaks; driving a car past purple fields of lavender; riding the train across a prairie of wheat.

PLANTS AND PEOPLE

In reality, plants have played a dynamic role in shaping our history. Life on Earth is made possible by the very breath of plants, by the way they absorb carbon dioxide (C02) and exhale oxygen. Plants may have even paved the way for us, evolving the process of photosynthesis in response to some prehistoric climate catastrophe and opening the DNA gates for the evolution of terrestrial animals like ourselves.

Grains of pollen frozen beneath the Antarctic ice may yet reveal the secrets of our Earth's own past. They could help predict its future too, solving the puzzle over whether the current hole in the ozone layer, attributed to our use of fossil fuels, was prefigured millions of years ago. Plant history is certainly longer than ours. While plants have been colonizing the planet for 470 million years, our own timeline is huddled into a relatively recent past. If every century counted as a minute on the face of a clock, the Romans conquered Europe twenty minutes ago; Christianity was founded less than a quarter of an hour back; and the first white people only settled in America in the time it takes to turn the beans of Coffea arabica into a decent cup of coffee.

Plants have always provided us with fuel, food, shelter, and medicines. They have always controlled the rate of land erosion and regulated the amount of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the air that we breathe. They have given us the fossil fuels that we are consuming with such profligacy and they have inspired us to build national botanical gardens, to go garden visiting, and to spend small for tunes on cultivating our own back yard plant collections.

We have self-harmed on plants too, overeating sugar, dosing up on natural narcotics, over indulging in alcohol. An overweight Durban housewife might rue the day that sugar (p.166) was first refined; an inebriate in Adelaide might blame his sorrows on barley (p.104), while some poor patient in a Cincinnati cancer ward could hold tobacco (p.136) responsible for his condition. On the other hand, we can rejoice in a cup of tea (p.26), celebrate with a glass of wine (see Wine Grape, p.202) or simply drink in the scent of the sweet pea (p.118) and the rose (p.162).

FRAGILE EARTH

This is a good time to look at how plants have altered the history of our life on Earth and how they continue to play a pivotal role. We are taking liberties with our plants and, in doing so, with planet Earth. It cannot continue. By consuming the fossil fuels that were made from plants and destroying the plants that make up the rainforests we are, according to the paleoclimatology scientist Professor David Beerling, "undertaking a global uncontrolled experiment guaranteed to alter the climate for future generations. Plants . . . are a major factor in the environmental drama of global warming now as they have been in the recent and more distant past" (The Emerald Planet, 2007). The perils of destroying our plants could alter the course of history

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Bill Laws
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ISBN 10: 0715338544 ISBN 13: 9780715338544
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Descripción DAVID CHARLES, United Kingdom, 2010. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Of course, we are entirely dependent on plants for our food and the air we breathe, but did you know that 5,000 mature English oak trees were used in the construction of Admiral Nelson s flagship HMS Victory, or that sweet peas were involved in the birth of the science of genetics? King Cotton was the driver of the slave trade, which was the first domino to fall in the American Revolution, and cotton was also the catalyst for the Industrial Revolution. These, and many other extraordinary facts in Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History, highlight the dynamic ways in which plants have influenced human history. This beautifully designed and illustrated volume provides an engaging guide to the fifty key plants that have had the most impact on human history. Packed full of information, the book includes details about the habitat and characteristics of each plant, fact boxes, full colour photographs and lovely botanical illustrations. Weaving together strands of economic, political and agricultural history, each entry is a fascinating look at the most influential plants known to mankind. Nº de ref. de la librería AA99780715338544

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Descripción David & Charles 2010-11-02, 2010. Estado de conservación: New. Brand new book, sourced directly from publisher. Dispatch time is 24-48 hours from our warehouse. Book will be sent in robust, secure packaging to ensure it reaches you securely. Nº de ref. de la librería NU-BER-00120477

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Descripción DAVID CHARLES, United Kingdom, 2010. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Of course, we are entirely dependent on plants for our food and the air we breathe, but did you know that 5,000 mature English oak trees were used in the construction of Admiral Nelson s flagship HMS Victory, or that sweet peas were involved in the birth of the science of genetics? King Cotton was the driver of the slave trade, which was the first domino to fall in the American Revolution, and cotton was also the catalyst for the Industrial Revolution. These, and many other extraordinary facts in Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History, highlight the dynamic ways in which plants have influenced human history. This beautifully designed and illustrated volume provides an engaging guide to the fifty key plants that have had the most impact on human history. Packed full of information, the book includes details about the habitat and characteristics of each plant, fact boxes, full colour photographs and lovely botanical illustrations. Weaving together strands of economic, political and agricultural history, each entry is a fascinating look at the most influential plants known to mankind. Nº de ref. de la librería AA99780715338544

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Descripción David & Charles Publishers, 2010. Estado de conservación: New. 2010. Hardcover. From the crops that have fed billions of people over the centuries to the plants highly regarded for their medicinal qualities, this fascinating offering from garden expert Bill Laws unearths the stories behind some of the world's best-known plants. Num Pages: 224 pages, 200 colour illustrations. BIC Classification: WNP. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 235 x 178 x 23. Weight in Grams: 716. 224 pages, 200 colour illustrations. From the crops that have fed billions of people over the centuries to the plants highly regarded for their medicinal qualities, this fascinating offering from garden expert Bill Laws unearths the stories behind some of the world's best-known plants. Cateogry: (G) General (US: Trade). BIC Classification: WNP. Dimension: 235 x 178 x 23. Weight: 724. . . . . . . Nº de ref. de la librería V9780715338544

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Descripción David & Charles Publishers. Estado de conservación: New. 2010. Hardcover. From the crops that have fed billions of people over the centuries to the plants highly regarded for their medicinal qualities, this fascinating offering from garden expert Bill Laws unearths the stories behind some of the world's best-known plants. Num Pages: 224 pages, 200 colour illustrations. BIC Classification: WNP. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 235 x 178 x 23. Weight in Grams: 716. 224 pages, 200 colour illustrations. From the crops that have fed billions of people over the centuries to the plants highly regarded for their medicinal qualities, this fascinating offering from garden expert Bill Laws unearths the stories behind some of the world's best-known plants. Cateogry: (G) General (US: Trade). BIC Classification: WNP. Dimension: 235 x 178 x 23. Weight: 724. . . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Nº de ref. de la librería V9780715338544

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