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Atlas of Poetic Botany

by Francis Halle The MIT Press
Pub Date:
09/2018
ISBN:
9780262039123
Format:
Hbk 128 pages
Price:
AU$49.99 NZ$52.17
Product Status: Available in Approx 14 days
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Botanical encounters in the rainforest: trees that walk, a leaf as big as an awning, a plant that dances.


 


This  Atlas invites the reader to tour the farthest reaches of the rainforest in search of exotic -- poetic -- plant life. Guided in these botanical encounters by Francis Halle, who has spent forty years in pursuit of the strange and beautiful plant specimens of the rainforest, the reader discovers a plant with just one solitary, monumental leaf; an invasive hyacinth; a tree that walks; a parasitic laurel; and a dancing vine. Further explorations reveal the  Rafflesia arnoldii, the biggest flower in the world, with a crown of stamens and pistils the color of rotten meat that exude the stench of garbage in the summer sun; underground trees with leaves that form a carpet on the ground above them; and the biggest tree in Africa, which can reach seventy meters in height, with a four-meter diameter. Hall+¬'s drawings, many in color, provide a witty accompaniment.


Like any good tour guide, Halle tells stories to illustrate his facts. Readers learn about, among other things, Queen Victoria's rubber tree; legends of the moabi tree (for example, that powder from the bark confers invisibility); a flower that absorbs energy from a tree; plants that imitate other plants; a tree that rains; and a fern that clones itself.


 


Hall+¬'s drawings represent an investment in time that returns a dividend of wonder more satisfying than the ephemeral thrill afforded by the photograph. The  Atlas of Poetic Botany allows us to be amazed by forms of life that seem as strange as visitors from another planet.


 


 
Francis Hallé is a botanist and biologist who specializes in tropical rainforests and tree architecture. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Montpellier.