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    Cyanobacteria: Good week, or bad week..? Part I

    This is the first of what is hoped to be a series in which Mr P. Cuttings looks at a group of organisms and tries to decide whether they’ve had a good week, or a bad week. And by way of increasing the intrigue this initial instalment will be published as four separate blog posts, […] More

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    What real people think about plants

    Vickery’s Folk Flora: An A-Z of the Folklore and Uses of British and Irish Plants by Roy Vickery, 2019. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. For the past several weeks I’ve been tackling Rebecca Armstrong’s Vergil’s Green Thoughts. What a contrast it was to now be looking at Vickery’s Folk Flora by Roy Vickery. Its sub-title The A-Z […] More

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    Ancient botany for the 21st century

    Vergil’s Green Thoughts: Plants, Humans, and the Divine by Rebecca Armstrong, 2019. Oxford University Press. When I first heard about Vergil’s Green Thoughts by Rebecca Armstrong, I was eager to obtain a review copy since it seemed to me to deal with matters of plants and people relevance, which deserved to be shared and promoted […] More

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    The extraordinary story of an ‘ordinary’ fruit…

    The Extraordinary Story of the Apple by Barrie E. Juniper and David J. Mabberley 2019. Kew Publishing. Having recently read Robert Spengler’s Fruits from the sands (and Michael Pollan’s Botany of Desire several years ago), I have some idea of the importance of the apple in the affairs of humankind. But, at best, those books […] More

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    When broomcorn millet swept along the Silk Road…

    Fruit from the sands: The Silk Road origins of the food we eat by Robert N Spengler III, 2019. University of California Press. In the UK we are blessed with a wide variety and ready availability of fruits all year round in our shops. So commonplace and taken-for-granted is that, I suspect we rarely give […] More

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    Does the Garden of Eden contain magic medicine trees?

    The Ethnobotany of Eden: Rethinking the Jungle Medicine Narrative by Robert Voeks 2018. University of Chicago Press. I suspect that most of us who’ve tried to impress upon others the importance of plants have at one time promoted the view that we need to conserve our green inheritance because the next cure for cancer – […] More

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    Three kinds of algae? Blooming marvellous news!

    Bloom: From food to fuel, the epic story of how algae can save our world by Ruth Kassinger 2019. Elliott & Thompson. As a Botanist, especially one who has taught an undergraduate module on marine biology for over 12 years, I like to think I know a thing or two about algae. However, having just […] More

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    Read all about it: Plants that get their own back on animals

    Carnivorous Plants by Dan Torre 2019. Reaktion Books Ltd. In the same way that it’s become something of a tradition that books about seeds should contain – and prominently – that Henry David Thoreau ‘seed quote’ * (e.g. Seeds, Sex and Civilization, 2010, by Peter Thompson; Thor Hanson’s The Triumph of Seeds, 2015), it’s seemingly […] More

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    Tirpitz and the science of conflict ecology…

    It has been said that, in war, truth is the first casualty. As understandable as it may be to tell lies, create and perpetuate falsehoods and deceptions, and spread disinformation – so as not to give any advantage to one’s enemy – the very suspicion that statements about wartime activities may not be true requires […] More

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    Primroses and primulas aplenty

    Primrose by Elizabeth Lawson, 2019. Reaktion Books Ltd. To the uninitiated, it may seem rather improbable that anybody can write 288 pages about the primrose. After all, whilst it may be understood that primrose is a corruption of the Latin phrase prima rosa, the first flower of spring, how much more could possibly be said […] More

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    Final course: ‘Coffee’… *

    Or, rather, something to ponder as you finish your meal, maybe with a coffee. Whatever your food(s) of choice, you need the right equipment – e.g. teeth – to cope with it (unless it’s a liquid or intravenously-introduced diet…). Although this item is a slightly offbeat ‘nutrition and teeth’ one, it’s a good one. Rather […] More

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