Read weeds how vagabond plants gatecrashed civilisation and changed the way we think about nature by Richard Mabey Online


The true story—and true glories—of the plants we love to hateFrom dandelions to crabgrass, stinging nettles to poison ivy, weeds are familiar, pervasive, widely despised, and seemingly invincible. How did they come to be the villains of the natural world? And why can the same plant be considered beautiful in some places but be deemed a menace in others?In Weeds, renowned nThe true story—and true glories—of the plants we love to hateFrom dandelions to crabgrass, stinging nettles to poison ivy, weeds are familiar, pervasive, widely despised, and seemingly invincible. How did they come to be the villains of the natural world? 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 with the verve and historical breadth of Michael Pollan. Weaving together the insights of botanists, gardeners, artists, and writers with his own travels and lifelong fascination, Mabey shows how these "botanical thugs" can destroy ecosystems but also can restore war zones and derelict cities; he reveals how weeds have been portrayed, from the "thorns and thistles" of Genesis to Shakespeare, Walden, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers; and he explains how kudzu overtook the American South, how poppies sprang up in First World War battlefields, and how "American weed" replaced the forests of Vietnam ravaged by Agent Orange.Hailed as "a profound and sympathetic meditation on weeds in relation to human beings" (Sunday Times), Weeds shows how useful these unloved plants can be, from serving as the first crops and medicines, to bur-dock inspiring the invention of Velcro, to cow parsley becoming the latest fashionable wedding adornment. Mabey argues that we have caused plants to become weeds through our reckless treatment of the earth, and he delivers a provocative defense of the plants we love to hate....

Title : weeds how vagabond plants gatecrashed civilisation and changed the way we think about nature
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ISBN : 9522524
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 409 Pages
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weeds how vagabond plants gatecrashed civilisation and changed the way we think about nature Reviews

  • Chris Blocker
    2019-06-04 09:01

    Richard Mabey knows his weeds. Seriously. You know those nutty birdwatchers with their field guides and binoculars—that's Mabey with weeds. Yes, you say, but those birdwatchers go out on field hunts searching for rare birds—so does Mabey with a group of botanical nerds, searching for alien weeds in the refuse of British dumps. When a potential alien weed is found, a whistle is blown, everyone gathers around, photographs are taken, and debate ensues. The weed is then carefully removed, bagged, and a member is chosen to cultivate the weed at home. Mabey knows his weeds.Because Mabey clearly knows what he is talking about, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Assuming everything he said in this book is true, weeds are pretty amazing. Not only are they incredibly resilient, but they're smart. You thought Little Shop of Horrors was bad, wait until you see what our weeds are working on. Weeds is an excellent foray into the world of weeds. Here you see the weed through the lens of the historian, philosopher, scientist, socioeconomist, poet, and agriculturist.Weeds are fascinating, but this book lags at times. When a person is truly passionate about a subject, they can easily overdo it. Mabey tells some wonderful stories about weeds, but he also tells ones that are difficult to make it through. Not to mention that introduction. It was over the top. I'm not sure who Mabey was writing for, but it didn't work. The language was incredibly forced. For Mabey's “entrée into the world of plants,” “on the tumuli of the old tips” where “a galaxy of more modest weeds tricked out the compacted layers of plastic and glass that passed for soil,” the “plants felt like comrades in arms, vegetable guerrillas that had overcome the dereliction of the industrial age.” Had the whole book read like those first five pages, I would've thrown it across the room and happily given it one star. Fortunately, Mabey figured out who his readers were and tossed this pomp verbosity into the compost bin.Personally, I think Michael Pollan is a more engaging writer on the subject, and I recommend his Second Nature to anyone with even the most remote interest in nature. Mabey isn't as engrossing as Pollan, but I think he knows his stuff. He may even know more than Pollan does. And so, I recommend his Weeds to anyone with a deeper appreciation for the subject. It may be what saves you when the triffids finally have their day.

  • Laurie
    2019-06-05 08:51

    ‘Weeds’ is not a gardening book, not a book to tell you how to eradicate the wretched things from your lawn nor one to tell you how to identify them. ‘Weeds’ is a history of weeds, of how plants come to be thought of as weeds, of how society reacts to them, of how they move, spread and adapt. It’s history, ecology and sociology added to the botany. Mabey discusses how the concept of ‘weed’ started (probably at the same time as agriculture did), how weeds evolve and seem to outwit humans, why a plant is a weed in one place of the world and not in another, what weeds give back (hard to believe, but in the right setting, they do), the use of weeds medicinally, weeds in literature and poetry, how railways spread weeds all over Great Britain, and why almost any non-native plant seems to become a weed in Australia. The book is a very interesting read, forcing one to look at all sides of the concept of ‘weed’. If you like the kind of writing Bill Bryson does, you’ll like Mabey.

  • Skye
    2019-06-11 06:03

    Fascinating investigation of the cultural significance of weeds. Very much a humanities text rather than sciences. Lost a star for some historical generalisations and medieval bashing, but still highly recommended.

  • Douglas Dalrymple
    2019-05-30 10:57

    Richard Mabey takes us from weeds' medieval double-employment in sympathetic magic and the theological Doctrine of Signatures, to the cutthroat world of 17th-century soldier-herbalists like Nicholas Culpeper, to John Ruskin’s strange disgust at the idea of photosynthesis (reducing flowers to mere “gasometers”), to the unexpected botanical marvels of London’s WWII bomb craters, and finally to dystopian science-fiction futures when human beings and all their works are remorselessly consumed by a tsunami of kudzu.Along the way we feast on a vernacular glossary matched only by that of the Lepidoptera, plants with names like gallant soldier, love in idleness, henbane, fat-hen, shepherd’s purse, pellitory-of-the-wall, stinking mayweed, giant hogweed, yellow rattle, self-heal, and welcome-home-husband-though-never-so-drunk. Mabey introduces us to “species that relish beheading,” an alfalfa seedling that sprouts “in the moist warmth of a patient’s eyelid,”plants with “leaves smelling of beef gravy,” and “the notorious Atheist’s Fig” that sprouted from the coffin of a blasphemer.Weeds, Mabey reminds us, are simply plants in places we’d rather they weren’t. “A tendency to weediness in a plant is as much a matter of opportunity as a fixed character trait.” And in their metamorphic qualities, their talent for endurance, rabid opportunism, and capacity of exploiting and adjusting themselves to the environment, and the environment to themselves, “the species they most resemble,” says Mabey, “is us.”

  • Sarah
    2019-06-25 11:00

    Didn't quite make 4 stars, but nearly. But awarded 4 stars in the end because I shall keep this book around and dip into it again. Lots of interesting information but a lot of it has to be taken on trust... or with a small pinch of salt. I love the way it has made me actually look up the actual weeds in my garden. Most of them I do know but some of them I just know by my own names and had no idea what the rest of the world calls them.Some of the other reviews made me laugh with complaints that english common names rather than american ones are used throughout most of the book. Weeds have so many local names that I had to look up a lot of them despite being english myself - and it just added to my own enjoyment.

  • Emma
    2019-06-14 11:02

    If you like Mabey you will like this book but apparently I am not a fan.I fail to see how knowing that there is a dock plant in a painting of a lion killing a horse and other such tediousness enriches one's life. Thin on biology, lots of fluff with poorly structured arguments and has put me right off reading his other books. I may just give this book away to someone who would actually like it.

  • trovateOrtensia
    2019-05-28 03:02

    Il libro è serio, nel senso che l'autore è un botanico e quindi sa di cosa parla.In quanto profana, dotata al più di pollice verde a fasi alterne, a me interessava soprattutto la linea argomentativa di partenza, cioè che il motivo per cui una pianta di qualsivoglia tipo venga definita come "erbaccia", o pianta infestante, è di tipo culturale: in un dato periodo della storia, in un certo ambiente, in presenza di una certa idea di natura (per esempio intesa come giardino, orto, cioè molteplicità di piante collazionate da uomini) alcune piante diventano "infestanti", ma non lo sono in assoluto. L'autore mette in luce inoltre, e anche questo ho trovato interessante, come il concetto di "erbaccia" sia appunto spregiativo già nella definizione, cioè dotato di connotazioni morali che però sono umane ed estranee alla natura. Nessuna pianta, in sé, è "erbaccia".Poi il libro è molto tecnico, e scende nel dettaglio sui vari tipi di piante cosiddette infestanti, con dettagli tassonomici e botanici che mi hanno interessato meno.

  • Juliet Wilson
    2019-05-29 07:01

    This is a brilliant, fascinating examination of the relationships between humans and plants, specifically those plants that we consider to be weeds.Richard Mabey is one of the UK's greatest nature writers and in this book examines all aspects of the cultural history of weeds:* how plants move from one place to another and why often a mild mannered plant becomes a menace when transported to a different location with a different ecology.* how agricultural weeds have co-evolved with crop species* how many weeds are actually useful as food sources or for other purposes* how weeds have taken advantage of our mistreatment of the environment - how in fact we have made weeds the problem that they have become.He also explores the role of weeds in art and literature. Although written primarily from a UK perspective, the book also considers weeds around the world. It is beautifully written, thought provoking, full of fascinating facts and a must-read for anyone interested in our relationships with plants.

  • Jennifer
    2019-06-03 03:12

    I read this one for Book Club, and I can honestly say that I might not have finished it except for that reason. It's not that it's a terrible book - it's that it's very dry. I enjoyed the sections on weeds in Shakespeare's writing and the poppies of Europe after WWI. I also liked the discussion of the medicinal and cultural value of the weeds. But, without illustrations or maps, it was difficult to imagine the diversity (and to see why some people's weeds are others' enjoyment).Overall, the author's discussion was valuable. I probably do come away from the book with a more positive feeling about weeds than when I began. In the end, I might have weeded out a few sections of the book that made it just a shade too long.

  • Lynn Spann Bowditch
    2019-06-23 07:55

    Love it; plan to buy it for permanent re-read shelf (and for my B&B guests). Unlike the Flora Britannica, ed. by Mabey, Weeds addresses those in the US, not just the UK. (Loved Flora Britannica, too).

  • Mila
    2019-06-08 07:04

    I like that Mabey knows that I'm going to "Google Image" Albrecht Durer's painting Large Piece of Turf, 1503. I like the black and white drawings at the beginning of each chapter. I love the strange chapter titles: Thoroughwort, Adonis, Knotgrass, Waybread, Self-heal, Love-in-idleness, Gallant-soldier, Burdock, Grelda, French Willow, Triffid, The Shoreditch Orchid. I like that he included a "glossary of plant names" because British common names for plants are different than ours, for e.g. fat-hen Chenopodium album is what I know as lamb's quarters. I like the way he reveals how weeds have been portrayed, from Genesis to Shakespeare and how they grow from Flanders Fields to Vietnam to Detroit to the dump (tip). And now to watch "The Day of the Triffids" (it's on YouTube).

  • Colleen
    2019-06-14 07:09

    Loved this book. Sort of a biography of weeds, in a way, or at least of the way some weeds have intersected with humans. I wish there had been photos, as so many of the weeds were truly beautiful. I kept my iPad handy, for reference. The uses of plants by man, and the abuses, and the likely future were all explored. Really enjoyed it. Highly recommended

  • Michelle
    2019-06-18 02:50

    I had assumed the reviewers who complained about the difficulty of understanding the British names for weeds were either lazy or unacquainted with google, but having read this whole dreary volume I now sympathize with them. It's not so much that Mabey uses the British names, however; it's that he composes whole sentences that are just lists of weed names. Even if he had used the American names, I doubt I would have found these lists more interesting. It's too bad, since his knowledge is tremendous and his thesis an interesting one to explore. Essentially, he points out that, without humans, weeds don't exist. They thrive in the spaces of chaos we've carved out of the world: sunny tilled fields, treeless lawns, battlefields. Where we've cleared out native vegetation, weeds have moved in. He paints a thought-provoking portrait of an abandoned building on the edge of civilization: At first, weeds take over, sprouting out of every crevice and in every footprint. But soon, the habitat changes. The forest begins to creep in, shady spaces appear, forest vegetation grows, and weeds fade into the background. There are other interesting factoids, including reference to some intruiging sci-fi movies with weeds as main characters, but someone needed to help Mabey "weed" out the tedious lists (har, har).

  • Sandy D.
    2019-05-30 07:18

    Very British look at a topic I already knew a lot about, from years studying the origins of agriculture, foraging, ethnobotany, etc. Mabey combines ecological, historical, and literary perspectives in a way that I really enjoyed - and he is very accurate and perceptive! - but sometimes it is difficult to match the English common names with the American ones. There is a plant index in the back, but is alphabetical by English common names, so I had to scan down to see the accompanying Latin names to figure out quite a few species. Despite years of studying Chenopodium species (including quinoa), I had no idea that C. album is "fat-hen" in the UK. It's a much cuter name than goosefoot or lamb's quarters.

  • Jo Coleman
    2019-06-02 08:12

    Of all the popular scientists called Richard, I think Richard 'Call Me' Mabey is my favourite, with his big smiley face and admission that he loves waste grounds full of weeds and once accidentally grew a giant hogweed outside his front door. He lost me a bit in the chapter about historical botanists, but he was really good on how weeds travel around stuck to people's shoes or hidden in fabric, and whether we hate them because they take over our gardens, or because they are migrants that we don't understand. Could really have done with some accompanying pictures though - I'm still not sure what a rosebay willow herb is.

  • Kerri Anne
    2019-06-25 06:53

    This book is beautiful and formidable. Dense. Curious. A bit long-winded in places, but perpetually riddled with so much insight and storytelling and factual history of so many beloved and long-known "weeds" (alongside plenty of new-to-me varieties). Definitely one I want to add to our always growing home library-of-wildness so I can go back and reference and re-learn and remember all the best weed-inspired stories. These plants, shrubs, flowers, stalks, trees, and seeds really are quite remarkable, stalwart, and interesting (garden, and then some) bedfellows. [Four-point-five stars for precocious poppies, bolstering bindweed, capricious coltsfoot, and all the rest.]

  • Marty
    2019-06-02 08:14

    I think it's an interesting topic, but the book is about British weeds, so I didn't know very many of the plants he was talking about. But I do appreciate the power of weeds to survive anything. Bombed out areas of London, the walls of the Coliseum in Rome. Kudzu covering everything in its path in the southern US. Ragwort - is that the same as ragweed? I think I would have liked the book if it had been about plants that I am familiar with.

  • Paul Moss
    2019-06-02 06:58

    A book to make you re-assess your world view. A tale of tangled stories of outsiders, pre-history and creation stories from the nature of weeds any how we classify them.

  • Karen GoatKeeper
    2019-06-16 04:56

    What is a weed? I heard it was a plant growing where it wasn't wanted. This definition leaves much to be desired.Are the poppies of Flanders Fields weeds? They were considered that for a long time but are now planted worldwide.Dandelions are considered weeds in the lawn culture. Pioneers found them lifesaving plants providing food and used as medicine. I used them to remove a wart. Are they really weeds?And why are so many weeds international travelers? Surely they were not moved deliberately. Yet they did get moved.Mabey is British and the book has a British leaning. Weeds are international so this doesn't mean much except for common names. He lists the scientific names in an Index.His conclusions are thought provoking. Did agriculture create the concept of weeds? Did weeds save the new experiment in agriculture?His final but incomplete definition of weeds is apt:"Weeds' rapid, opportunist lifestyles mean that their tole - what they do - is to fill the empty spaces of the earth, to repair the vegetation shattered naturally for millions of years by landslide and flood and forest fire, and today degraded by aggressive farming and gross pollution. In so doing they stabilize the soil, conserve water loss, provide shelter for other plants and begin the process of succession to more complex and stable plant systems."Maybe weeds are not the villains so many people make them out to be.The book is interesting and readable by anyone interested in plants. He follows many weeds on their travels both as stowaways and as train passengers and more. Weeds turn out to be very interesting organisms.

  • Lisa
    2019-06-06 11:06

    A really enjoyable read. Mabey has a very easygoing, engaging style and his way of linking his own life experiences to the more scientific facts he was writing about really works well. I learnt lots about weeds and have developed much more respect for these wonderfully varied plants that green our abandoned places, and shore up our soil against the next big dust storm....

  • RickJackofsky
    2019-06-24 03:16

    A rather disjointed collection of historical anecdotes.

  • Emma Cooper
    2019-06-10 04:54

    In 'Weeds', Richard Mabey has shown himself to be a true Renaissance Man. As he explores weeds and their history with man (for without man, there are no weeds), he effortlessly combines history and myth with science, art, literature and architecture. And he does it using language that makes no attempt to dumb itself down to the lowest common denominator, and yet to the literate reader is as enthralling and readable as mass-market paperbacks are to the masses. The book itself is divided into twelve chapters, each given the common name of a plant that is considered to be a weed. But the chapters aren't mere discussions of the virtues (or not) of that plant, they have wide-ranging themes and touch on many plants and their stories. They are all tied together by the main story arc of how our perceptions of weeds have changed through the ages, and scattered with entertaining anecdotes. In 'Adonis', for example, we discover that Edward Salisbury raised more than 20 species of plant from the debris he found in his trouser turn-ups!'Knotgrass' looks at the way weeds and theology have become entwined through the ages and how that has coloured our view of them. It's all caught up with the development of agriculture (before which 'weeds' as a concept did not exist) and the simultaneous advent of a life of toil and strife, before which we lived free and easy lives as hunter gatherers and weren't cursed by pestilent weeds.'Self-heal' discusses the different ways that medicinal plants have been selected since history began, including the Doctrine of Signatures that professes that a plant's medicinal qualities (and the ailments they cure) can be seen in their form by an experienced practitioner. There's an echo of these ideas later on in 'Burdock' when Mabey revisits Ruskin's attempt to classify plant species on the basis of their aesthetic qualities, at a time when our understanding of botany and evolution was beginning to give us a real understanding of why plants grow in the way the do.I got bogged down in 'Love-in-idleness', which is about the presence of plants in literature. Shakespeare I can cope with, but as I have no appreciation of poetry the latter half of the chapter was heavy going. I skipped it and moved on to 'Gallant Soldier', which is fascinating because it talks about the ways in which weeds are transported around the world, and also because it mentions locations with which I am more than familiar. Mabey makes it clear that the biosecurity genie is well and truly out of the bottle. We have been transporting plants around the globe – on purpose and unwittingly – for as long as we have been on it. Mabey rounds out the book with a glossary of plant names, a bibliography and an index and his hope that whilst our concept of weeds is an indication of our separation from the natural world, their habit of refusing to accept or acknowledge boundaries could show us the route back to a life more in tune with nature. If you have even a passing interest in plants and their impact on our lives, this is an essential read.

  • Greg
    2019-06-19 03:00

    The reviews by people who are complaining that the book is about "British weeds" are ridiculous. Though Mabey knows British weeds most intimately, the story is about weeds in general, and examines such invasions as the cogon covering bombed-out Vietnamese rainforests, kudzu (which is overtaking the American south), and the interesting and unknown-to-me fact that Australia is being assailed by a set of weeds including olive trees, fig trees, carrots, and grapes (in addition to the usual weed suspects.)I have to assume that if someone is reading this book, they have some ecological interest in learning about weeds as a phenomenon. This book delivers. I think it's very well-written and deeply insightful. I think that if you're planning on trying to cultivate a garden or lawn (but honestly, please don't grow yet another lawn), considering the weed while reading this book for 5 hours is time very well spent.I also think Mabey's meditations on weeds could be important food for thoughts of politicians and knee-jerk environmentalists, who seem to be equally likely to condemn an invading or expanding species. Using lines of logic like "they're displacing native plants," but often without examining what the effects of infestation have actually been, they recommend expensive, sometimes ecologically-dangerous, and almost universally futile programs to remove and control the weeds. Mabey's book invites a shift in perspective, asking the reader to see weeds in a reasonable light. They're not a scourges, punishments, invaders, or saboteurs. They're evolution's answer to the colossal environmental disruption humans have wrought and are wreaking still. In that they have evolved to exploit humans, we should consider them to be our most successfully cultivated crop. Just as much as we have bred and selected our food crops, our weed-eradication methods have cultivated superior weed strains that will resist the hoe, ignore the poison, wait out the smothering black weedblock fabrics, and sometimes even puncture asphalt that tries to keep them down.It may not be feasible to allow weeds to overrun our food crops, but the message of the book (to me) is that we could do worse (and are doing a lot worse right now) than to allow weeds to fulfill their ecological functions. What sorts of plants are we expecting to see overtaking abandoned buildings or growing in uncultivated rubble piles? Corn? The day that we no longer see plants trying to take back the land we took from them, I will despair.

  • Kristin
    2019-06-17 11:07

    I wanted to like this book much better than I did. The sections talking about the history of various weeds and how they were viewed through time was fascinating, although sometimes a bit harder to relate to as I'm on the other side of the ocean from most of the plants being described.That disconnect between countries was what really led to my disappointment in the book. The author is clearly not someone who is greatly bothered by most weeds and does his best to point out that they are really not as bad as we all think. To some extent I can relate to that, but then my background in weed science kicks in. He mentions a number of "noxious" weeds in the UK and points out how they really aren't that bad or that widespread. That may certainly be the case with the weeds that he mentions in those chapters, but I come from the western US, where there are weeds that are horribly widespread and that have greatly changed the ecosystems that they have invaded. Because of that difference, the last portions of the book really broke down for me.I really liked the line drawing illustrations that were at the beginning of each chapter, but I would have loved to have seen similar line or botanical drawings of some of the weeds that were highlighted, particularly because I am not as familiar with UK weeds as I am with western US weeds.

  • Windy2go
    2019-06-22 03:10

    I loved this book -- Mabey has all kinds of interesting information about various weeds -- things we now consider weeds, plants that used to be considered weeds, how weed traits and behaviors make them so successful in disturbed ground. I know, it sounds terribly boring, but Mabey makes it all interesting! In one chapeter, he gives us the longest popular weed name he has come accross (for a weed that tends to grow in the crevices of a roof or in rain gutters): "Welcome Home My Husband Though Never So Drunk." He doesn't give us the story behind this long name--probably unknowable--but what a fun detail! To imagine some 18th century English housewife inventing such a name for a weed clinging to her house... and that it would become wide-spread enough to still exist... I find it delightful! Mabey's description of how weeds took over the bombed-out spaces of London or how weeds overtook an abandoned housing development are also fascinating... with echos of "The World Without Us" (to which he even makes reference). I'm so glad I picked this book up!

  • Jennifer
    2019-05-27 04:54

    All I can say is, the weeds in England must be different from the ones over here. Maybey, a nature writer, makes them seem somehow more benign than some of ours. Of course, if you can track some of your invasives to seeds stuck in Roman legionaires' sandals, the British have had more time to get used to them. This book is full of plenty of literary allusions and interesting tidbits; for example, rosebay willowherb--ubiquitous in waste areas of disturbed soil--apparently hitched a ride from the continent on unexploded bombshells during WWII. A very engaging read for gardeners, but I do think Maybey underplays the damage to southern agricultural land by kudzu, and to the Everglades by the Brazilian pepperberry. He fails to mention that mountain laurel--an American import--has seriously altered large swathes of Wales, but if you garden, read it anyway.

  • Margaret Sankey
    2019-05-28 09:09

    British nature writer Richard Mabey examines the importance of weeds--how civilization decides something inconvenient is a weed, the scandals of 1970s Royal Flower shows when "weeds" were presented as flowers, the intertwined presence of poppies and wheat in ancient fields, Shakespeare's weed jokes in A Midsummer Night's Dream, John Clare's poetry lamenting the loss of wild fields to enclosure, bracken as a prized fuel source for gathering, burrs and Velcro, neighborhood covenants about lawns and the Weed Acts, weeds adapting to urban environments, weed terror and the Night of the Triffids, kudzu, weeds and medieval herbal medicine and sympathetic magic and the adaptations weeds have made to technological developments (hitching rides on tires, airplanes, in ship ballasts, growing in bomb craters, growing through concrete).

  • Kim
    2019-05-29 05:04

    Richard Marbley does a good job of describing weeds within Great Britian. Interestingly, none of the weeds that he talks about are prevalent in the area that I live on the east coast. But he makes interesting insights about how a lecture about the weeds in bombshelters was a heavily attended lecture right after V-E day. He also talked about how dock would impact the wheat crop. At times, Mr. Marbley's prose is cloying and I would have preferred him talking about more universal weeds. But it was interesting to learn about how the gardeners in Great Britian view weeds (which is pretty similar to how the former colonists of the US view their weeds).

  • Jean
    2019-06-01 09:15

    This book offers all kinds of fascinating facts about plants, but more than that, it suggests interesting ways of looking at the ideas of wildness and civilization, usefulness and nuisance, waste and productivity. Weeds, in their essence, are plants that are in the "wrong" place--as defined by humans, and this changes. What makes a weed a weed? Many characteristics that give plants weedy tendencies also make them the first plants to colonize damaged areas, from volcanic eruptions to urban brownfields. Although possibly giving too much information in a couple of places, this book is very thought-provoking and enjoyable to read.

  • Anne
    2019-06-25 05:06

    An enjoyable read (although color plates would be a lovely addition, alas lacking on a Nook) even for someone who doesn't know much about plants. Mr. Mabey brings up some interesting questions regarding what constitutes a "noxious" weed along the way as well, which may vary considerably from continent to continent. The concept of "weed" isn't nearly as cut and dried as even the forgiving phrase "a weed is a plant in the wrong place" makes it seem, and he covers, in prose that takes you on lovely walks through the English countryside, the different ways weeds have linked up with human activity.