Weeds: How Vagabond Plants Gatecrashed Civilisation and Changed the Way We Think About Nature

by Richard Mabey.

British nature writer wants to cut nature's vagabonds some slack.

Weeds

Weeds, as one would expect from Richard Mabey, is a meticulously researched, well-written book in which he explores man's relationship with weeds of all kinds.

Being Mabey, of course, he is rather sympathetic to these vagabond plants, and thinks they get something of a bad press. He points out that many of our favourite plants could be classified as introduced or invasive species.

Some of Mabey's research is very interesting. I was particularly intrigued by his account of the artist John Ruskin's frankly bonkers attempt to devise a plant taxonomy based upon their aesthetic appeal. I was also amused to learn that American blue grass, that ultimate symbol of the rural south, is not native to the United States at all, having been accidentally introduced by European settlers.

Charles Darwin, who features a couple of times in this book, would no doubt have been very interested to read Mabey's account of weeds' dispersal mechanisms—a subject which he himself studied in great depth.

As with all of Mabey's books, highly recommended.

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