Sure to appeal to fans of Robert Sullivan's Rats and Amy Stewart's Wicked Plants, Britain’s “greatest living nature writer” (London Times) reveals the true story--and true glories--of the plants we love to hate.
“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”--Ralph Waldo Emerson
From dandelions to poison ivy, stinging nettles to crabgrass, weeds are familiar, pervasive, and seemingly invincible; they survive ice ages, natural catastrophes, and global wars, and mark human movement across continents and centuries as indelibly as languages. Yet weeds are considered to be the scourge of lawns and gardens, saboteurs of beauty and our best-laid plans. Why are weeds so widely vilified, even despised? And why can the same plant be considered beautiful in some places but be deemed a menace in others?
In Weeds, renowned nature writer Richard Mabey embarks on an engaging journey through the cultural history of these vagabond plants with the verve and historical breadth of Michael Pollan. Combining natural history, botanical science, and insight from his own travels, he considers how “botanical thugs” destroy whole ecosystems, and he champions the cause of those that green over war zones and derelict cities. Mabey explores how weeds have been portrayed from the Bible to Shakespeare, from Walden to Invasion of the Body Snatchers. From kudzu in the American South to the poppies of First World War battlefields to the “American weed” that replaced the forests of Vietnam ravaged by Agent Orange, Weeds reveals the hidden truths behind one of most prevalent--yet unappreciated--parts of the natural world.
Richard Mabey is widely hailed as Britain's foremost nature writer. He is the author of the groundbreaking book on foraging in the countryside Food for Free and the editor of The Oxford Book of Nature Writing. He has narrated and produced popular BBC television and radio series, and has written for the Guardian, Granta, and other publications. He lives in Norfolk, England.