9780062702319 / 0062702319

Botanica North America: An Illustrated Guide to Native Plants: Their Botany, Their History, and the Way They Have Shaped Our World


Publisher:Collins Reference



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About the book:

From California coastal redwoods to Arctic poppies and the sugar maples of the eastern forest, the native plants that surround us spring to life in Botanica North America by Canadian gardening doyenne Marjorie Harris. Weighing in at nearly seven pounds, this encylopedic reference is divided into 10 regions, with striking photographs to illustrate each plant province. Of the 15,000 native plants that grow in North America, Harris features the 420 or so that mean the most to people. She describes each plant's physical attributes, natural history, common uses, and ethnobotany. Harris visits landscapes as varied as the boreal forest, the tundra, and the desert. Her descriptions--whether of the montane's Indian paintbrush, the desert's hedgehog cactus, or the pussy willow of the Swamp Forest--are captivating:

According to a Polish legend, a cat whose kittens had fallen into a river when they were chasing butterflies was crying loudly at the edge of a river. Hearing her cries, the nearby willows swept their graceful branches into the waters to rescue the tiny kittens. The kittens held on tightly to their branches and were safely brought to shore. Each springtime since, goes the legend, the willow branches sprout tiny furlike buds at their tips where the tiny kittens once clung.
Harris also relays a powerful conservationist message: We can't save a plant or an animal in isolation--we have to save the whole habitat, she advises. Understanding native plants and how each one fills a tiny niche in a vast ecosystem is essential to protecting habitat.

Harris's enthusiasm for her subject makes each native plant seem as interesting as it is important. For the environmentalist, gardener, and lover of nature, this reference is indispensable. --Carolyn Leitch

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