Three Odd Books: Rotten Botany

Three Odd Books on the strange denizens of the plant world by Odd Salon Fellow, author, and connoisseur of the darker corners of botany, Amber Guetebier.

For any lover of the Corpse Flower, pure botanical wonder comes in the form of putrescines and cadavarines aka the stuff that makes stinky flowers smell like rotting flesh. But any good rottanist must form a foundation of basic, hacker knowledge of the Plant Kingdom (and dabble in the Kingdom of Fungi). Some of my favorite books that color the world of the botanist in the slightly darkest way:

Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities

Amy Stewart, Algonquin Books, 2009

The botanical genius that is Amy Stewart rose to fame with her book, Wicked Plants. Weaving together history, botany and really pretty pictures, this is your guide to some of the most deadly (and beloved) plants in our known world, from common-but-killer roadside sprouts to medicinal cultivars, this book belongs on every darkhearted shelf. Also check out: The Drunken Botanist!

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The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World

Michael Pollan, Random House, 2001

Though not about specific dark and disgusting plant behaviors, per say, Michael Pollan’s now-famous book takes a look at four important plants and their role in botanical (and human) history and evolution: tulips, apples, cannabis and hops. A great read for understanding how desperately we need plants to tell us what to do. Also: science!

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The Private Life of Plants: A Natural History of Plant Behavior

David Attenborough, BBC Books, 1994

Filmmaker David Attenborough explores some of the most extreme examples of plant adaptation with his book. Attenborough discusses carnivorous plants with the enthusiasm that any plant nerd will appreciate. Plants, their predatory nature and their fascinating evolution: also there’s photos!

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Amber Guetebier is a Fellow of Odd Salon, and under the nom de plume Varla Ventura, author of several books on the the strange and mysterious world, including The Book of the Bizarre as well as the forthcoming Paranormal Parlor—an exploration of seances, ghosts, and the late Victorian spiritualist craze. You can find all of her projects here: Varla Ventura


Books to inspire, awe & bewilder: See all our book reviews here: THREE ODD BOOKS

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