Perfectly Peculiar Plants

Perfectly Peculiar Plants
Chris Thorogood and Catell Ronca
Words & Pictures

Books about animals seem to drop into my post box in relatively large numbers, not so ones featuring plants. It’s fantastic then, to see botanist Chris Thorogood’s title, superbly illustrated in vibrant style by Catell Ronca, which goes just a small way towards redressing the balance.

After all, without plants, where would we animals be? Despite the fact that some of those featured herein actually devour creatures from the animal kingdom we’re dependent on plants for oxygen and need them for food.

In addition to insectivorous plants, some species appearing here make use of insects in ingenious ways, often for pollination or seed dispersal, while others steal their food from the roots or stems of other plants. Still others – the Queen of the Night Cactus being one – absorb nutrients from bird poo.

Another poo feeder (animal faeces in this instance) is the tree shrew toilet pitcher found in Borneo.

I was amazed to learn that Entada gigas, the sea bean has large brown seeds that can sometimes travel across oceans for thousands of miles before they reach a place to germinate.

Between the pages featuring the astonishing plants themselves are more general spreads introduced by questions such as ‘How do plants get energy?’ and ‘Can plants move?’ Each of these sets the scene for the showcasing of individual species; and it’s great to see the final ‘Protecting plants’ spread though perhaps some information could have been included for how those motivated by the author’s ‘they all deserve a place on planet Earth’, might help towards protecting threatened habitats or species.

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