What Have Plants Ever Done for Us?: Western Civilization in Fifty Plants

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9781851244478: What Have Plants Ever Done for Us?: Western Civilization in Fifty Plants
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Plants are an indispensable part of our everyday lives. From the coffee bean that gets roasted for our morning brew to the grasses that feed the animals we eat to the rubber tree that provides the raw materials used in the tires of our cars, we depend on plants for nearly every aspect of our lives.
           
With What Have Plants Ever Done for Us?, Stephen Harris takes readers step by chronological step through the role of plants in the rise of the Western world, with sojourns through the history of trade, travel, politics, chemistry, and medicine. Plants are our most important food source. Some, such as barley, have been staples since the earliest times. Others, like the oil palm, are relative newcomers to the Western world. Over time, the ways we use some plants has also dramatically changed: Beets, a familiar sight on the dinner plate, were once thought to be an effective treatment for leprosy and now show significant promise as a sustainable biofuel. What, one wonders, might the future thus hold for the mandrake or woad? Plants have also held potent cures to some of our most prevalent diseases. An extract from the bark of the yew tree, for instance, is commonly used in the treatment of cancer.
           
Wide-ranging and thoroughly engaging, What Have Plants Ever Done for Us? will help readers cultivate a deeper appreciation for our branched and rooted friends who ask little in return for their vast contributions save for a little care and water.

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About the Author:

Stephen Harris is the Druce Curator of the Oxford University Herbaria and a University Research Lecturer. He is the author of Planting Paradise and The Magnificent “Flora Graeca,” also published by the Bodleian Library.

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“Plant scientists such as Harris are a rare breed in Britain these days. Yet their work is as important as ever.” (Times (UK) 2016-01-14)

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Stephen A. Harris
Published by The Bodleian Library, United Kingdom (2016)
ISBN 10: 1851244476 ISBN 13: 9781851244478
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Book Description The Bodleian Library, United Kingdom, 2016. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. When did the British Government become the world's largest drugs pusher? What tree is frequently used to treat cancer? Which everyday condiment is the most widely traded spice on the planet?Plants are an indispensable part of our everyday life. From the coffee bush and grass for cattle which give us milk for our cappuccinos to the rubber tree which produces tyres for our cars, our lives are inextricably linked to the world of plants.Taking us on a chronological journey, Stephen Harris identifies fifty plants that have been key to the development of the Western world, discussing trade, politics, medicine, travel and chemistry along the way.Plants have provided paper and ink, chemicals that could kill or cure, vital sustenance and stimulants. Some, such as barley, have been staples from earliest times; others, such as oil palm, are newcomers to Western industry. Moreover, with time, uses change: beets, which have been used variously as a treatment for leprosy, source of sugar and animal feed, are now showing potential as biofuels. What may the future hold for mandrake or woad?We remain dependent on plants for our food, our fuel and our medicines. Their effects on our lives, as the stories in this wide-ranging and engaging book demonstrate, continue to be profound, and often unpredictable. Seller Inventory # AAZ9781851244478

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Stephen A. Harris
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Book Description The Bodleian Library, United Kingdom, 2016. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. When did the British Government become the world's largest drugs pusher? What tree is frequently used to treat cancer? Which everyday condiment is the most widely traded spice on the planet?Plants are an indispensable part of our everyday life. From the coffee bush and grass for cattle which give us milk for our cappuccinos to the rubber tree which produces tyres for our cars, our lives are inextricably linked to the world of plants.Taking us on a chronological journey, Stephen Harris identifies fifty plants that have been key to the development of the Western world, discussing trade, politics, medicine, travel and chemistry along the way.Plants have provided paper and ink, chemicals that could kill or cure, vital sustenance and stimulants. Some, such as barley, have been staples from earliest times; others, such as oil palm, are newcomers to Western industry. Moreover, with time, uses change: beets, which have been used variously as a treatment for leprosy, source of sugar and animal feed, are now showing potential as biofuels. What may the future hold for mandrake or woad?We remain dependent on plants for our food, our fuel and our medicines. Their effects on our lives, as the stories in this wide-ranging and engaging book demonstrate, continue to be profound, and often unpredictable. Seller Inventory # AAZ9781851244478

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