The publisher of The Annals of Botany Company journals Annals of Botany and AoB Plants, Oxford University Press, has many titles about plants and plant science to further explore the fascinating world of plants. Here is a curated list of some of them in observation of Fascination of Plants Day 2017:
Walter S. Judd and Graham A. Judd
In Flora of Middle Earth: Plants of Tolkien’s Legendarium, botanist Walter Judd gives a detailed species account of every plant found in Tolkien’s universe, complete with the etymology of the plant’s name, a discussion of its significance within Tolkien’s work, a description of the plant’s distribution and ecology, and an original hand-drawn illustration by artist Graham Judd in the style of a woodcut print. Among the over three-thousand vascular plants Tolkien would have seen in the British Isles, the authors show why Tolkien may have selected certain plants for inclusion in his universe over others, in terms of their botanic properties and traditional uses. The clear, comprehensive alphabetical listing of each species, along with the visual identification key of the plant drawings, adds to the reader’s understanding and appreciation of the Tolkien canon.
Fortress Plant: How to survive when everything wants to eat you
The survival of plants on our planet is nothing short of miraculous. They are virtually stationary packages of food, providing sustenance for a vast array of organisms, ranging from bacteria and fungi, through to insects, and even other plants. But plants are master survivors, having coped with changing environments and evolving predators over much of the history of life on earth. In this often hostile world, battles are fought daily, often to the death. These battles are not trivial – they matter, because life on this fragile planet of ours depends on plants. In Fortress Plant, Dale Walters takes readers on a journey through these battlefields, exploring how predators try to fool plants’ surveillance systems and, if they manage to do so, how they gain access to the nourishment they require. He shows how plants respond to attacks, what defences they use, and how the attacked plant can communicate its plight to its neighbours. These skirmishes represent the latest stage in an unending evolutionary war between plants and organisms that feed on them. These battles might be on a micro scale, but they are every bit as fierce, complicated, and fascinating as the battles between animal predators and prey.
The Emerald Planet
In The Emerald Planet, David Beerling puts plants centre stage, revealing the crucial role they have played in driving global changes in the environment, in recording hidden facets of Earth’s history, and in helping us to predict its future. His account draws together evidence from fossil plants, from experiments with their living counterparts, and from computer models of the ‘Earth System’, to illuminate the history of our planet and its biodiversity. This new approach reveals how plummeting carbon dioxide levels removed a barrier to the evolution of the leaf; how plants played a starring role in pushing oxygen levels upwards, allowing spectacular giant insects to thrive in the Carboniferous; and it strengthens fascinating and contentious fossil evidence for an ancient hole in the ozone layer. Along the way, Beerling introduces a lively cast of pioneering scientists from Victorian times onwards whose discoveries provided the crucial background to these and the other puzzles. This understanding of our planet’s past sheds a sobering light on our own climate-changing activities, and offers clues to what our climatic and ecological futures might look like. There could be no more important time to take a close look at plants, and to understand the history of the world through the stories they tell.
Essentials of Developmental Plant Anatomy
Taylor A. Steeves and Vipen K. Sawhney
The main aim of Essentials of Developmental Plant Anatomy is to provide a developmental perspective to plant anatomy. Authors Steeves and Sawhney provide fundamental information on plant structure and development to students at the introductory level, and as a resource material to researchers working in nearly all areas of plant biology i.e., plant physiology, systematics, ecology, developmental genetics and molecular biology. The book is focused on angiosperm species with some examples from different groups of plants.
Lincoln Taiz and Lee Taiz
Sex in animals has been known for at least ten thousand years, and this knowledge was put to good use during animal domestication in the Neolithic period. In stark contrast, sex in plants wasn’t discovered until the late 17th century, long after the domestication of crop plants. Even after its discovery, the “sexual theory” continued to be hotly debated and lampooned for another 150 years, pitting the “sexualists” against the “asexualists”. Why was the notion of sex in plants so contentious for so long? Flora Unveiled is a deep history of perceptions about plant gender and sexuality, beginning in the Ice Age and ending in the middle of the nineteenth century, with the elucidation of the complete plant life cycle.
AoB Blog and Plant Cuttings curator Nigel Chaffey reviewed Flora Unveiled.