Short Take: The Big Bad Book of Botany – Michael Largo

Largo’s witty compendia have lots of fans. Less zany and macabre than previous titles like Final Exits and The Portable Obituary, The Big, Bad Book of Botany is still witty and one of a kind. Our marketing department calls it “David Attenborough meets Lemony Snicket” which makes me smile because it is so apt. Add black and white illustrations throughout and you have an edifying trivia book for adults and kids alike.

In a quirky, alphabetical collection of folklore, traditional botany, growing suggestions, and modern science and nutrition, Largo shares delight in the weird and wonderful corners of the plant world. Reading like Culpepper’s Herbal filtered through Ripley’s Believe it Or Not…. Common edibles like kiwi and oregano and garden plants like bleeding heart and rose sit alongside both well-known strange plants like corpse flower and more obscure exotics like the West African ordeal poison calabar bean. Similarly, ancient uses like that of hops in beer share space with modern benefits like the efficacy of licorice root as an antiviral. Largo’s palpable enthusiasm for the ways in which humans and plants interact means every page yields something to catch the reader’s interest.”
Publishers Weekly

The Big, Bad Book of Botany: The World’s Most Fascinating Flora (9780062282750) by Michael Largo. $18.99 trade paper original. 8/5/14 on sale.

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