A World of Plants
James Brown and Martin Jenkins
With the continuous stream of books about animals, it’s great to see this large format volume about plants.
There’s an absolute wealth of information packed between its covers with each spread focusing on a different aspect of plant life. The author, Martin Jenkins is highly adept at presenting complicated topics in such a way as to make them accessible and enjoyable for children. Having explained what a plant is, he includes information about such aspects of plant life as photosynthesis, the carbon cycle and reproduction.
There’s a spread on the functions of xylem and phloem (tissues I didn’t come across until I studied A-level botany).
Seeds and their dispersal mechanisms are discussed;
so too are plant hormones, and climbing plants – those with twining stems, tendrils, clinging suckers or roots, and hooks.
Symbiosis and other plant interactions are explored, as are carnivorous plants – I’m always fascinated by these when I visit Kew Garden – and parasitic plants.
Sacred and Symbolic Plants talks about the many thousands of plants used as medicinal herbs and stimulants, provide spices, flavourings and perfumes or for ornamental purposes. I knew that the sacred lotus is an important symbol in Buddhism but was surprised to read that it was also revered in Ancient Egypt on account of the way its beautiful pure flowers emerge from unclean waters.
There’s a look at plant defences: I was fascinated to discover that there are plants with ‘spikes’ (needle-like crystals of calcium minerals called raphides) in their tissues that can penetrate the lining of an animal’s mouth and throat releasing poison into its bloodstream.
In fact no matter which spread you choose to read, you cannot but be excited by the manner in which Jenkins and illustrator/print maker, James Brown present the botanical world. The latter’s full page illustrations, double spreads and borders are absolutely awesome.
This book provides wonderful insight into the wide and varied world of plants.