essays on plants

David R. Hershey dh321 at PGSTUMAIL.PG.CC.MD.US
Sat Jan 20 23:36:05 EST 1996

The author of the out-of-print Wily violets and underground
orchids, also wrote another book of plant essays,
Bernhardt, Peter. 1993. Natural Affairs: A botanist looks at the
attachments between plants and people. Villard Books, New York.

Some other plant books which contain essays that may be useful in
an introductory botany class include,

Hui-Lin, Li. 1963. The origin and cultivation of shade and
ornamental trees. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia.
[15 chapters for a popular audience by botany professor including
chapters on Ginkgo, Metasequoia, and plane trees].

Heiser, Charles B. 1987. The fascinating world of the
nightshades. Dover, New York. Paperback $5.95.
[popular account of ethnobotany/economic botany of Solanaceae
with chapters like "Some like it hot" on peppers and "Filthy weed
or divine plant" on tobacco]. Dover Publications (31 East 2nd
Street, Mineola, NY 11501) has several dozen inexpensive
paperback botany books. Write and ask for their Nature book
catalog. They accept mail orders only].

Bailey, Liberty Hyde. 1963. How plants get their names. Dover,
New York. Paperback $4.95.
[popular explanation of scientific nomenclature, reprint of 1933
classic by famous taxonomist].    

Koopowitz, Harold and Hilary Kaye. 1990. Plant extinction: A
global crisis. Christopher Helm, London. 
[particularly nice are 1 to 2 page case histories for each of 19
endangered species]. 

Benzing, David H. 1980. The biology of the bromeliads. Mad River
Press, Eureka, CA. 
[popular treatment but with lots of data and scientific
literature references].

Platt, Rutherford H. Jr. and Carl P. Swanson. 1988. This green
world. Dodd Mead, New York.
[reprint of 1942 classic that won the John Burroughs award for
excellence in nature writing, chapters include "Pollen jewelry
and how flowers guard it" and "The dynamic spirals of plants"]. 

Marranca, Bonnie. (ed.). 1988. American garden writing. PAJ
Publications, New York. 
[anthology of plant essays/writings by 50 authors including
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and several plant explorers,
like David Fairchild, and including a brief biography of each

Hobhouse, Henry. 1985. Seeds of change: Five plants that changed
mankind. Harper & Row, New York. 
[detailed histories of quinine, potato, sugar cane, cotton, and
tea and their effects on civilization].

Simons, Paul. 1992. The action plant: Movement and nervous
behaviour in plants. Blackwell, Cambridge, MA. 
[popular treatment of plant movements].

Not really essays but may be of use in teaching:

Gabriel, Mordecai L. and Seymour Fogel. 1955. Great experiments
in biology. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ. 
[includes excerpts of original scientific reports and brief
biographies of several botanists including Robert Hooke, Robert
Brown, Charles Darwin, Fritz Went, Van Helmont, and De Saussure].

Manning, Reg. 1969. What kinda cactus izzat?: A "who's who" of
strange plants in the southwestern American Desert. Reganson
Cartoon Books, Phoenix, Arizona.
[notable for its cartoons, first published in 1941, 34th printing
in 1985].

David R. Hershey
Snail mail: 6700 Belcrest Road #112, Hyattsville, MD 20782-1398

Adjunct Professor, Biology/Horticulture Department
Prince George's Community College, Largo, MD 20772-2199

Email: dh321 at

On 15 Jan 1996 reynolds at wrote:

> I am teaching an introductory botany course for the first time and want 
> to liven up the course with more than just text book readings. Does 
> anyone know of essays, articles, books on interesting aspects of plants? 
> I'm thinking of Stephen J. Gould type or David Quammen level essays. One 
> good source I've found is "Wily Violets and Underground Orchids" by Peter 
> Bernhardt which has many interesting chapters on reproductive biology.
> Doug Reynolds
> Dept. of Biological Sciences
> Central Washington University
> Ellensburg, Wa. 98926
> reynolds at

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