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The flower hunters were intrepid explorers - remarkable, eccentric men and women who scoured the world in search of extraordinary plants from the middle of the seventeenth to the end of the nineteenth century, and helped establish the new science of botany. For these adventurers, the search for new, undiscovered plant specimens was something worth risking - and often losing - their lives for.
From the Douglas-fir and the monkey puzzle tree, to exotic orchids and azaleas, many of the plants that are now so familiar to us were found in distant regions of the globe, often in wild and unexplored country, in impenetrable jungle, and in the face of hunger, disease, and hostile locals. It was specimens like these, smuggled home by the flower hunters, that helped build the great botanical collections, and lay the foundations for the revolution in our understanding of the natural world that was to follow. Here, the adventures of eleven such explorers are brought to life, describing not only their extraordinary daring and dedication, but also the lasting impact of their discoveries both on science, and on the landscapes and gardens that we see today.
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From Publishers Weekly:
Mary Gribbin and John Gribbin are among the best-known current popular science writers. Together, they have written many acclaimed books, including Ice Age, FitzRoy, Stardust, and Big Numbers.
Mary is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Sussex, and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society with a special interest in plants and exploration. John is also a Visiting Fellow at the University of Sussex, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and the author of books including The Universe: A Biography, In Search of Schrodinger's Cat, and Science: A History.
Veteran science writers, the Gribbins (Richard Feynman: A Life in Science) tell the stories of 11 18th- and 19th-century botanical explorers. Two were Swedes, including the renowned taxonomist Carl Linnaeus, who botanized in Lapland. The others came from Great Britain, including Joseph Banks, who sailed with Captain Cook, and Francis Masson, sent to South Africa by the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. With David Douglas, sent to North America by the Horticultural Society of London to obtain plants to sell to affluent gardeners, came the age of plant exploration for profit. Robert Fortune was sent to China to collect tea plants for the East India Company. Richard Spruce obtained seeds of the South American tree that produces quinine, the drug used to treat malaria. Joseph Hooker brought rhododendrons from India to Victorian Britain. Marianne North searched several continents for material for her flower paintings. The adventures of these botanists, who often risked their lives in search of exotic species, should make for exciting reading, but the Gribbins' dry biographical sketches fail to capture the drama. 30 color and b&w illus not seen by PW. (June)
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Book Description Oxford University Press, 2008. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # MR-ZDEG-AMIO
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