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Wicked Plants: The A-Z of Plants That Kill, Maim, Intoxicate and Otherwise Offend Hardcover – 1 Sep 2010


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Timber Press (1 Sept. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1604691271
  • ISBN-13: 978-1604691276
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.4 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Amy Stewart is the bestselling author of five books on the perils and pleasures of the natural world. Her essays and commentaries have appeared on NPR, in the New York Times, and in Fine Gardening and other magazines. Stewart is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and the American Horticultural Society's 2010 Book Award. She lives in Eureka, CA, where she and her husband own an antiquarian bookstore. Find her online at www.amystewart.com and at GardenRant.com.

Product Description

Review

Amy Stewart's book is beautifully presented. Etchings, drawings and calligraphy give the appearance of an ancient herbal with a hint of Harry-Potter spell book... The writing style is very readable, light and entertaining. It's a fun, informative book about what Stewart calls the 'unfathomable evils' of the plant kingdom and the presentation makes it an enticing read. --Eden Magazine

About the Author

Amy Stewart tends a poison garden of her own in northern California. She is the award-winning author of four books on the perils and pleasures of the natural world.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Emma Cooper on 26 Oct. 2010
Format: Hardcover
Amy's definition of `wicked' is quite broad - not all of the plants she covers are poisonous. Although she starts with plants used to produce arrow poisons, she moves on to intoxicating and narcotic plants, invasive weeds and carnivorous plants, and those that enslave animals (and humans) to spread their seeds through various means.

There are fascinating facts about exotic plants you may never come into contact with, wild plants and weeds that you may run into when you're out hiking or camping, and familiar plants that live in our gardens and homes and have an unexpectedly dark side to them.

There is a tendency to think of natural plants products as safer than their synthetic replacements, but this book reminds us that nature can be nasty as well as nice and that it's important to know what you're growing and eating and particularly foraging for when you're out and about in the countryside. It's also a good reminder that a well-behaved and useful plant in one climate can become and invasive monster in another habitat, so we should be careful about the non-native plants we introduce into our gardens.

Whether you're a keen gardener or botanist, or just interested in the macabre, this is a great little volume to have lying around. Although this book is fascinating, it's a little too detailed to make it a light read. It would make a great coffee table book to dip into, or an interesting reference book for the shelf.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By jojoss on 29 Dec. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love this book. It is for anyone interested in plants or the unusual as it has a lot of interesting facts about plants and their nastier sides which I did not know in many cases. I like the presentation and think it would make an unusual but most acceptable book for gardeners and indeed anyone who has a thirst for information of a slightly disturbing but factual nature.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mr. R. T. Bowes on 1 Oct. 2010
Format: Hardcover
Entertaining, witty and informative little book, packed with useful and interesting snippets of information. The illustrations are charming and botanically precise - I do wonder how other reviewers have said that they are useless for identifying the plants concerned. True, they are not photographs and are not in colour, but nonetheless they are accurate and detailed renderings of the plants in question.

The only main quibble I have is that most of the information is, frankly, a little on the sketchy side. Just as you are starting to get interested in a particular plant, the section about it ends (each plant covers no more than three small pages). The book is also written nearly completely from a USA viewpoint, making it of little relevance to a UK reader.

Also slightly irritating for further research purposes is constantly missing information about studies which have been carried out - constant reference is made to things like "a recent study" or "an extremely influential medical journal" - no dates, titles or authors are give,which would seem to make it practically impossible to track down the source (none of these are listed in the bibliography). Even basic details such as the name of the journal (BMJ, Lancet, World Journal of Pharmacology etc) would give you a clue as to where to start looking. Therefore, its not much good as any kind of reference book, more of a "taste wetter".

In tune with American paranoia about absolutely everything, its also very, very heavy on the "dont cultivate/eat/touch/purchase/even THINK of standing near this plant" warnings which can get a little tiresome after a while. It is completely and utterly obvious that Stewart is either a reformed smoker or a non-smoker as her preaching about tobacco gets a little too impassioned.

Having said all that, I did find it interesting, very readable and a worthwhile addition to my bookshelf, as are most of the author's other books.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ms. V. Lovatt on 28 Aug. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book just to gain a little insight into the more mischievious plants after doing some related design work.. I ended up reading it from cover to cover (when I should have been drawing..oh dear)it is so addictive and well written! I love the gothic cover design and the illustrations are beautiful and chime with the general feel of the book (it reminds me of a Victorian-era garden guide written by the likes of Capability Brown). Each plant and its attendant danger to us seems very well investigated and concise without being over-long. I think it would make a great gift for green-fingered chums or family, or simply to read for our own amusement and information. Buy it!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Nothern Climes TOP 500 REVIEWER on 27 May 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an interesting book - no doubt about that & I'm in agreement with a lot of the other reviewers about the plus points so I'm not going to dwell on those.

What struck me though, was what it left out. Whilst there was a listing of various papers, articles & journals in the rear of the book, there was no index. Which meant in order to find a point (or plant) I'd already read or one which I wanted to read/know if the book contained, I had to refer to the more basic chapter headings at the front, with the not-always-clear titles about what the chapter was about, such as "don't look now" & "deadly dinner" to name just two.

Further, whilst I realise that this book has no colour to speak of (save for the rather attractive green hard cover, the sepia-tinged pages & the black line drawings), it would be undoubtedly challenging to identify any of the plants discussed - at least with any degree of certainty. Line drawings in other guides tend to list specific information about descriptive plant characteristics so that an accurate identification might be made.

Dipping into the book at random, I started by looking up on the Net the various plants to see them in "glorious Technicolor" as it were. The stinging tree for example "Dendrocnide moriodes" has quite a following on YouTube, but as is often the case, the facts start to merge with the myths. "Simply brushing up against the plant results in unbearable pain that may last up to a year" says Amy Stewart (the author) & yet there's a video of a chap deliberately stinging his hand & videoing the result.
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