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Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History

Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History

Bill Laws
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The fascinating stories of the plants that changed civilizations

"This book will mesmerize plant-lovers and non-gardeners alike "
--American Gardener

"This marvelous collection of tales deserves to be read and enjoyed "
--Chicago Botanic Garden

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
  • 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 genetics
  • White mulberry, used to feed the caterpillars that 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