“[A] witty and beguiling meditation on weeds and their wily ways….You will never look at a weed, or flourish a garden fork, in the same way again.”
—Richard Holmes, author of The Age of Wonder
“In this fascinating, richly detailed book, Richard Mabey gives weeds their full due.”
—Carl Zimmer, author of Evolution
Richard Mabey, Great Britain’s Britain’s “greatest living nature writer” (London Times), has written a stirring and passionate defense of nature’s most unloved plants. Weeds is a fascinating, eye-opening, and vastly entertaining appreciation of the natural world’s unappreciated wildflowers that will appeal to fans of David Attenborough, Robert Sullivan’s Rats, Amy Stewart’s Wicked Plants, and to armchair gardeners, horticulturists, green-thumbs, all those who stop to smell the flowers.
As popular British science writer Mabey (Food for Free) observes, "weeds are our most successful cultivated crop." They rely on humans who inadvertently cultivate their soil, sow their seeds, and transport them around the globe. This lively, erudite work invites readers to take a new look at the lowly and unloved weed. Mabey explains how weeds have cunningly evolved to survive natural disasters, human devastation, climate change, and almost every attempt to eradicate them. He weaves together a complex, fascinating tale of history and botany that travels from the first farm fields of Mesopotamia to the bomb craters of the London Blitz and the lowly industrial outfields of our modern cities. The ubiquitous weeds are alternately menacing and redemptive. Mabey's stories are filled with obscure history, engaging characters, and descriptions of threatening invasive plants that can rival any science fiction thriller. Weeds mock our best efforts to control them and they may very well survive us. In this thought-provoking, engrossing natural history, Mabey deftly argues that the world's most unloved plants deserve our fascination and respect. 12 b&w line drawings.