The Reason for Flowers: Their History, Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives

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9781476755526: The Reason for Flowers: Their History, Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives
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Cultural history at its best—the engaging, lively, and definitive story of the beauty, sexuality, ecology, myths, lore, and economics of the world’s flowers, written by a passionately devoted author and scientist, and illustrated with his stunning photographs.

Flowers, and the fruits that follow, feed, clothe, sustain, and inspire all humanity. They have done so since before recorded history. Flowers are used to celebrate all-important occasions, to express love, and are also the basis of global industries. Americans buy ten million flowers a day and perfumes are a worldwide industry worth $30 billion dollars annually. Yet, we know little about flowers, their origins, bizarre sex lives, or how humans relate and depend upon them.

Stephen Buchmann takes us along on an exploratory journey of the roles flowers play in the production of our foods, spices, medicines, perfumes, while simultaneously bringing joy and health. Flowering plants continue to serve as inspiration in our myths and legends, in the fine and decorative arts, and in literary works of prose and poetry. Flowers seduce us—and animals, too—through their myriad shapes, colors, textures, and scents. And because of our extraordinary appetite for more unusual and beautiful “super flowers,” plant breeders have created such unnatural blooms as blue roses and black petunias to cater to the human world of haute couture fashion. In so doing, the nectar and pollen vital to the bees, butterflies, and bats of the world, are being reduced. Buchmann explains the unfortunate consequences, and explores how to counter them by growing the right flowers. Here, he integrates fascinating stories about the many colorful personalities who populate the world of flowers, and the flowers and pollinators themselves, with a research-based narrative that illuminates just why there is, indeed, a Reason for Flowers.

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From the Author:

Pollinators and flowers are my "day job" as a pollination ecologist. I know what colors, shapes, scents and floral rewards attract different suites of animal pollinators to various flowers. I'm a native bee specialist. Thus, although I've written about pollination and conserving  pollinators before (In: The Forgotten Pollinators with Gary Paul Nabhan), and  done books on honey bees, I'd never tackled such an ambitious project. Each of the fourteen chapters in "The Reason for Flowers"could easily have been a book on their own. So, my task while researching the book was to synthesize the most interesting facts and stories about flowers from earliest to modern cultures around the world, anything that people have used flowers for as food, spices, perfumes and inspirational themes in art and literature. I also introduce my readers to how flowers have served us in medicine and science. How flowers influenced Gregor Mendel and Charles Darwin are discussed along with examples of collaborative floral studies I've conducted with other scientists over my career. I hope that you will have a flower nearby, as your botanical muse, as together we embark upon this journey of floral discovery. 

From the Inside Flap:

The lively and definitive story ofthe beauty, sexuality, lore, economics,and ecology of the world's flowers,written by a devoted scientist andillustrated with his stunning photographsFlowers, and the fruits they become, feed,clothe, sustain, and inspire us. Indeed, theyhave done so for all of human history. Yetalthough we use flowers to celebrate important occasions, to express love, andto please our senses, we know little aboutthem, their functions in nature, or evenhow we depend upon them. In a volume that will delight gardeners, naturalists, cooks, artists, or anyoneinterested in history or culture, authorand scientists Stephen Buchmann explains how bees, butterflies, and otherinsects; birds; and bats all relate to flowers in ways crucial to the well-beingof nature. Next he takes us on an engagingexploration of the roles flowers play inthe production of food, spices, medicines,and perfumes. Flowering plants, Buchmannthen shows, have long served as inspirationin our myths and legends, in the fine anddecorative arts, and in prose and poetry. Flowers have in fact so thoroughly seducedus through their myriad shapes, colors, textures, and scents that we buy someten million a day; because of our extraordinary appetite for more unusualblooms, plant breeders have created notjust a seemingly infinite variety of tulips,roses, and dailyness but such unnaturalblooms as blue roses and black petunias. Stephen Buchmann is an expert guide through the fascinating world of flowers,and his masterful and perceptive narrativeillustrates just why there is, indeed, areason for flowers. 

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9781476755533: The Reason for Flowers: Their History, Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives

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