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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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    1st course: Seagrass ****

    What’s the one dietary fact everybody knows about sharks? Correct, they eat human beings – as graphically shown in the creature feature film sensation of 1975, the movie Jaws (and its various good, bad, and indifferent sequels…). As so-called apex predators, sharks are famously considered to be carnivorous, but, that’s not necessarily so. Samantha Leigh […] More

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    Food, glorious food! ***, ****

    Plants provide animals [and it is acknowledged that the following listing is somewhat human-biased] with many things: e.g. medicines; building materials; oxygen; useful chemicals (e.g. dyes such as madder, essential oils for aromatherapy, and the natural pesticide pyrethrin); fuel to heat our homes or move our motor cars; fibres (e.g. cotton and jute); ‘recreational’ drugs […] More

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    Visually stunning: Flora for juvenile – and adult – fauna

    Flora: Inside the Secret World of Plants by DK [Dorling Kindersley] with contribution by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 2018. Dorling Kindersley. Dorling Kindersley’s Flora: Inside the secret world of plants [hereafter referred to as DK’s Flora] is a stunning book. However, with no Introduction, one can be forgiven for not being entirely sure what DK’s […] More

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    Wood-wide web wins world-renowned writing award

    The Overstory by Richard Powers, 2018. William Heinemann. As a would-be botanical educator who’s reviewed a lot of botany texts over the years, I don’t really have time to review – or just read – ‘novels’. But, having been impressed with the intelligent-plant-based science fictionesque novel Semiosis last year, and hearing that Richard Powers’ new […] More

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    Check beneath your boots…

    When people mention plant blindness* they tend to focus on the ‘lack of appreciation of the role of plants in the world’ notion. That is important, but there has always been another side to plant blindness, people’s apparent inability to see plants in the natural world. That second issue is part of the inspiration for […] More

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    Bigging-up Bill’s botany

    Mr Guilfoyle’s Shakespearian Botany, Edited by Diana E Hill and Edmée Cudmore, 2018. The Miegunyah Press. It is acknowledged that English wordsmith William Shakespeare (Bill…) was well-versed in matters botanical. Quite how numerous and widespread are references to plants in the works attributed to the British ‘Bard’ is demonstrated by William Guilfoyle who devoted some […] More

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