Oct 24, 2011

Wicked Plants

by Amy Stewart

Wicked Plants is a little book stuffed full of data on plants that do harm to people. Whether by poisoning, causing rashes and itching, intoxicating or overwhelming the environment- noxious weeds are a real headache! It was curious to see how many plants nowadays considered very dangerous were used in times past as medical remedies (often with very bad results for the patients). And I'm no longer surprised at how new arrivals in the Americas ages ago were afraid to eat tomatoes; related plants in their family are poisonous (such as deadly nightshade). I was surprised to find how many other plants commonly grown in gardens can be toxic: sweet peas, rhododendrons, azalea, certain kinds of lawn grass, celery! Of course, you'd have to eat a ton to come to harm, and quite a few I can't see why anyone would ingest it at all- azalea leaves, really? but lots of other plants that resemble edibles or have attractive-looking berries it's easy to understand why kids put them in their mouths, or even hikers who think they know what plants are safe. There's also info in here about mushrooms. And did you know olive trees can cause terrible allergic reactions? even lime peel! I could go on and on but you should just read the book and save me the trouble. Incidentally, the part about Lincoln's mother mentioned in the subtitle (The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities) doesn't appear until near the end, so you have to read the entire book to get to that part. It's all worth it, though!

Also this book sent me googling about ten different plants to see what they look like, in spite of the delightful illustrations. Which is always a good sign of how much it triggered my curiosity, sending me online to learn more. Borrowed this one from the public library.

rating: 3/5 ........ 233 pages, 2009

more opinions:
I know a lot of you have read this book but my google reader returns nothing I can pin down and searches online yield so much stuff which aren't book reviews that I have no time to wade through. So if you're a book blogger and you've read and posted about this book let me know and I'll add a link to you here!


bermudaonion said...

This sounds fascinating to me!

Chris said...

I've been dying to get my hands on this one! I may actually have it…not sure, lol. Isn't that sad? Anyway…regardless, I need to read it!