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The Botany of Desire

Like many good books, this book left me really tantalized to know more about its varied subjects. Pollan is a garderner and writer who is fascinated by the way species reproduce and cultivate themselves as well as other species. In this book he describes four different plant-man relationships and shows how man’s desire for intangibles led to a relationship with a particular plant. For example, he discusses tuilpomania and how people’s desire for beauty in an otherwise staid and unappealing landscape led to the popularity and breeding and appreciation of the tulip.

The book is well-researched with Pollan himself discussing his own experiences growing the plants in question -- completely hilarious when describing his attempts at marijuana growing in the seventies. He also does a lot of field work, going to visit the plant genetics research facility in New York where scientists are working to maintain genetic information for all species of apples known to humankind. He has an informal style and a gardener’s eye for detail. His writing is lovely and my only regret about this book is that it was not long enough.