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Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History

Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History

Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History by Bill Laws

Summary:  Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History is a beautifully presented guide to the plants that have had the greatest impact on human civilization. Entries feature a description of the plant, its botanical name, its native range and its primary functions — edible, medicinal, commercial or practical. Concise text is highlighted by elegant botanical drawings, paintings and photographs as well as insightful quotes.

Many of the plants are well known, such as rice, tea, cotton, rubber, wheat, sugarcane, tobacco, wine grapes and corn. However, there are also many whose stories are less known. These history-changing plants include:

·         Agave, used to make sisal, poison arrows, bullets, tequila and surgical thread
·         Pineapple, which influenced the construction of greenhouses and conservatories
·         Hemp, used for hangman’s rope, sustainable plastics, the Declaration of Independence and Levi’s jeans
·         Coconut, used for coir fiber, soap, margarine, cream, sterile IV drips and coagulants
·         Eucalyptus, used in mouthwash, diuretics, vitamins, honey, underwear and fire-resistant uniforms
·         Sweet pea, which Gregor Mendel used in his research on genetic heredity
·         White mulberry, used to make silk
·         English oak, used for fire-resistant structures, dyes, leather tanning, charcoal, casks and ships
·         White willow, used in the manufacture of aspirin, cricket bats, hot-air balloon baskets and coffins

This attractive reference provides an innovative perspective on both botanical and human history.

Angies comments: I am not much of a botanist and can’t identify many common garden plants, but I do like history and trivia. There was certainly a lot of history and trivia, and I even became more interested in plants. Each plant has its own section, so feel free to skip around as you want.

Recommended for history and/or botany fans.