Fifty Plants That Changed the Course of History

Fifty Plants That Changed the Course of History

3.63 (357 ratings by Goodreads)
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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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Product details

  • Hardback | 223 pages
  • 175.26 x 228.6 x 25.4mm | 657.71g
  • English
  • Illustrations, color
  • 1554077982
  • 9781554077984
  • 93,753

Review quote

Fifty Plants That Changed the Course of History offers capsule summaries of the culinary, medicinal, commercial, or practical significance of 50 familiar plants. Some will be obvious (wheat, wine grapes), but Laws manages to throw in some interesting and little-known history about each. For example, the 17th-century French Benedictine monk Dom Perignon, who helped develop still wines in the region of Champagne, is sometimes credited with first sealing a wine bottle with a stopper made from cork oak; and pharmacist Wilbur Scoville devised a test for rating the heat of a chili pepper in 1912.--George M. Eberhart"C and RL News (Association of College and Research" (10/01/2011)
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About Bill Laws

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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Rating details

357 ratings
3.63 out of 5 stars
5 24% (87)
4 32% (116)
3 29% (105)
2 10% (36)
1 4% (13)
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