The Botany of Desire

This month’s Egghead Choice ‘The Botany of Desire’ (2002) is a radical challenge to the
assumption that humans control plants for their own benefit. Perhaps plants
co-operate with us (not consciously, of course) in pursuit of their own ends. One is minded of the domestic cat lounging by the fire. Its servant (you) is busy in the kitchen mixing
Moggy’s dinner. After its repast the servant stimulates its pleasure glands by tickling
it behind the ear. In due course you will help take care of her poor, oh! so endearing, little kittens. Who is really in control here? Perhaps it is neither. Perhaps there exists a complex co-evolution delivering mutual benefit. In a similar way, wonders Michael Pollan (, do plants use humans as much as we use them? He concentrates on four specific plants: apples, tulips, marijuana and potatoes. In his discussion of our relationships with these plants Pollan combines literary, historical, philosophical, and scientific references with engaging anecdotes. This is thought-provoking stuff and greatly entertaining. You may never be able to eat an apple again without having a chat with it first.

ISBN 978-0747563006

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