Powered By Plants

Powered by Plants
Clive Gifford and Gosia Herba
Wide Eyed Editions

How many people I wonder are aware of the wealth of cutting edge science and technology of yesterday, today and the future, that involves members of the diverse plant world found in the many ecosystems on our planet? Some of this rich diversity is being increasingly studied and copied, inspiring innovations in design, science, engineering and technology. This third book about biomimicry introduces some awesome plant inventors. Prepare to be awed for as Tumbleweed says in the book’s introduction, plants are the experts and you’ll likely never look at flowers, trees or seaweed in the same way again.

There are six main sections: Structures, Robotics, Energy, Health, Sustainability and Materials and a final look to the future. Each plant is allowed to speak for itself and informs readers about such things as how it grows and why its particular structure is or was, so useful to humans. All this fascinating information is broken up into bite-sized chunks placed in fact boxes and embedded in a funky, colourful illustration by Gosia Herba.

If you’ve ever wondered what the fastest growing plant on the planet is, no it isn’t dandelions or that pesky Himalayan balsam that seems to be choking up so many of the UK’s waterways, it’s actually bamboo and there are more than 1,000 different bamboo species. With its high tensile strength bamboo has been used to build houses in Asia and is still used to make scaffolding. Perhaps more exciting though is that some scientists in China now know how to process the hollow fibres from its stems to make a soft, breathable, very fast drying fabric that is much more environmentally friendly than acrylic, polyester and even cotton.

Five other plants present their super powers in the Structures section including the ‘earthquake proof’ coconut palm, the fruit of which has a multitude of uses including in the production coir, a mosquito repellent, coconut milk and of course, coconut water.

No matter which section you choose to dip into you’re sure to be excited: from the fast-growing cottonwood trees with wind power potential, to the slick, slippery carnivores like the pitcher plant and the super-thirsty willow tree, the bark of which has healing properties thanks to salicin – a powerful pain-relieving substance, it will be a case of WOW! that is truly amazing.

An absolute treasure of a book for both home and school use.

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