The Cabaret of Plants: Botany and the Imagination
In Richard Mabey's characteristically lyrical and informative tone, The Cabaret of Plants explores plant species which have challenged our imaginations, awoken that clichéd but real human emotion of wonder, and upturned our ideas about history, science, beauty and belief. Picked from every walk of life, they encompass crops, weeds, medicines, religious gathering-places and a water lily named after a queen. Beginning with pagan cults and creation myths, the cultural significance of plants has burst upwards, sprouting into forms as diverse as the panacea (the cure-all plant ginseng, a single root of which can cost up to $10,000), Newton's apple, the African 'vegetable elephant' or boabab, whose swollen trunks store thousands of litres of water - and the mystical, night-flowering Amazonian cactus, the moonflower. From Ice Age artists, to the Romantic poets, via colonialism and the nineteenth century botanical mania of empire, Mabey concludes his magnum opus with the latest revelations of possible 'plant intelligence' in this extraordinary collection of encounters between plants and people.
A Mabey Magnum Opus: an in-depth, beautifully-written and insightful exploration of humans and plants, from the author of Flora Britannica and Weeds
Praise for Richard Mabey - 'The nation's favourite nature writer Sunday Telegraph Mr Mabey is the kind of person you wish you had with you on every country walk, identifying, explaining, deducing, drawing on deep knowledge lightly worn Country Life Enraptured, visionary, witty and erudite Daily Telegraph
Richard Mabey is one of our greatest nature writers. He is the author of some thirty books including the bestselling plant bible Flora Britannica, Food for Free, Turned Out Nice Again, Weeds: the Story of Outlaw Plants and Nature Cure which was shortlisted for the Whitbread, Ondaatje and Ackerley Awards. His biography, Gilbert White won the Whitbread Biography Award. A regular commentator on radio and in the national press, he was elected a Fellow in the Royal Society of Literature in 2012. He lives in Norfolk.