Fifty Plants That Changed the Course of History
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Fifty Plants That Changed the Course of History

By (author) Bill Laws

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"The fascinating stories of the plants that changed civilizations." "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.

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  • Hardback | 223 pages
  • 175.26 x 228.6 x 25.4mm | 657.71g
  • 25 Jan 2011
  • FIREFLY BOOKS
  • English
  • colour illustrations
  • 1554077982
  • 9781554077984
  • 52,406

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Author Information

Bill Laws is a social historian and the author of 10 books. He has contributed to such publications as the "Guardian," the "Daily Telegraph" and "BBC History" magazine. He lives in England.

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Review quote

We can't live without plants. They provide oxygen, food, clothes, medicine and shelter. From great lists of all-important plants, social historian Bill Laws brings us the fascinating stories of 50 that have actually altered civilizations. Among them: black pepper, which led to a need for banking; sugar, which fueled the slave trade; and white willow, used to make aspirin, cricket bats, hot-air balloon baskets and coffins. You might want to pick up two copies of this beautifully illustrated, fun read--one for the gardener on your list and one for you.--Kathy Huber"Houston Chronicle" (12/16/2011)

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