Author: Amy Stewart
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2009
Hardcover, 235 pages
Source: Purchased at Barnes & Noble.
First Line: A tree sheds poison daggers; a glistening red seed stops the heart; a shrub causes intolerable pain; a vine intoxicates; a leaf triggers a war. Within the plant kingdom lurk unfathomable evils.
If you're the classic "townie" and know nothing about plants or gardening, read this book. You'll be on the receiving end of an enjoyable education. That is, unless you're a Nervous Nellie. Then you may throw out any houseplants you have and refuse to step outside your door.
If you're someone like me who grew up weeding the garden, helping her grandmother out in her flowerbeds, or tromping around in the woods, read this book. Unless you have a degree in botanical poisons and trivia, you'll still be on the receiving end of an enjoyable education.
I grew up having been taught not to put everything in my mouth. I grew up having been taught that plants weren't always my friends. (Just ask my allergies.) I would also suppose that my penchant for crime fiction might also make me slightly more knowledgeable about the plant kingdom. Regardless of how much I already knew, I learned still more by reading this book.
This well-illustrated little volume has been stuffed with knowledge by author Amy Stewart. She includes "over 200 of Mother Nature's most appalling creations in an A to Z of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend." The short chapters are perfect for dipping into when only a few minutes are available to read, and they are packed with information. Latin names are included, but Stewart uses layman's terms to keep confusion at an absolute minimum.
Alnwick Garden. In fact, the cover of Wicked Plants strongly reminds me of the gates to the Poison Garden there.
It's easy to learn more about these plants: Stewart has included lists of gardens and additional books for reading in the back. Novice or expert, you're bound to find something of interest in Wicked Plants.