The quest for plants to change our lives
Distributed by Bookwise
WE gardeners tend to
view our plants as friends - so the odd prickly or irritating encounter
doesn't faze us. Our benevolence is such that it's easy to believe
that if something's natural, it's got to be good for you.
Armed with history and
with science at his elbow, David Stuart scratches away at cosy notions
such as these. Many plants, he reveals, have a "Janus nature" -
they both "kill" and "cure". And often, despite our absolute conviction
otherwise, some do neither.
So Stuart pores over
plague and leprosy, pain and ecstasy, childbirth and death, malaria
and Aids, fertility and heart disease, exploration and religion,
shedding light on our edgy relationship with the plant world.
and failure litter this relationship: rhubarb, mallow and the poison-nut
tree did nothing for the 17th-century plague victim; willow trees,
under the transforming magic of 19th-century German chemist Felix
Hoffman, gave us aspirin and trouble-free pain relief; the scientific
jury is out on the benefit of ginseng, but such is the demand for
this plant that it's a rarity in the wild.
Stuart serves up quackery
and delusion, poisonings and panaceas along with a range of plants
found in our back yards: opium poppy, wolfsbane, Queen Anne's lace
This splendidly illustrated
hardback prompts new respect for your garden. You may also see herbal
remedies in a very different light.
Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH