5506 pages, 11 colour photos
Plant Biographies contains over 4 000 species and genera, more than 40 000 botanical synonyms and even more common names (in very many languages), and over 800 reference works are addressed. All information is searchable and accessible within seconds. You will be surprised and intrigued by what you find. Have you wanted to find a plant's name in another language or what a delicacy like marron glacé is made of? A wonderful cornucopia of information on the uses, importance, history, economics, folklore and literature of plants.
Plant Biographies draws together, in plain language, direct and indirect data on plant species which is not readily available to the general public. The text covers many many common English and foreign plant names, social, cultural and economic plant uses, their involvement in customs and events, their association with individual people and places, and with literature and folklore, their history and artistic influence, and their environmental impact.
On the CD-ROM the main text covers well over 5 000 pages. It is preceded by a Foreword (by Professor Gren Lucas), Contents, Introduction and an extensive list of Definitions of Botanical Names and is followed by a Bibliography and an over 300-page comprehensive General Index. The alphabetic presentation of botanical and common names (regardless of language) enables the reader not only to find the species concerned quickly but also to see at a glance those occasions identified on which a botanical or common name applies to more than one species. The General Index gives the reader the great advantage of a highly refined searching tool embracing detailed breakdowns and access via nationalities, tribes, religions, individuals and most disciplines, including any alternative names by which these and the many subjects might be known.
"Eland began this project in 1990, knowing that many people lack knowledge about plants' origins and uses; she has developed a remarkable compilation of details about 4 000-plus species/genera. Not only does this CD-ROM provide traditional botanical descriptions, it also offers information on plants' properties, influences, history, and relationships with humans. Entries are written in plain language, except for the scientific plant names. However, useful introductory material explains some terminology that will aid readers' understanding. Entries include each plant's botanical name, common names, and synonyms in many languages; region of origin; description (e.g., tree, shrub, cactus); information about harvesting and preserving; warnings about lethality; and general information. Entries may mention people, places, uses, or events associated with a plant, incorporating references to mythology, customs, environmental impact, economics, art, design, music, symbolism, and numerous other disciplines.
An accompanying website is updated as changes are made to existing biographies or new genera/species are added. It provides options to browse the contents alphabetically by genus; search by family, genus, common name, or species (or a combination); or search by topic (e.g., people, geographic names, tribes, religions, industries). Plant Biographies is a PDF in CD-ROM format – alphabetically arranged, with an index, and more compact and affordable than a print edition would be. Many libraries likely would prefer an online book, and the author acknowledges the dilemma concerning the best format for this material. The text lacks internal links among cross-references, from entries to the bibliography, or from the index to specific pages, making navigation slower than it could be. Overall, however, Plant Biographies offers a different range of information than that available in free online sources such as USDA's PLANTS Database, R. Isaacson and K. Allen's Plant Information Online, and The International Plant Names Index."
– F. G. Shrode, Utah State University, Choice, December 2014
"Having watched the growth of Plant Biographies over the last 22 years or so, I am delighted that it is now available for general consultation.
I spent 16 years as a botanist at the Royal Horticultural Society's Garden at Wisley, Surrey, UK, answering plant-related questions from the public. I had to trawl for hours through a wide range of books and other sources to find the kind of information available here at the click of a mouse.
To have gathered so many facts and figures together is a huge achievement which I am sure will be greatly appreciated by everyone, from students and school children to quiz setters, librarians, crossword fanatics and gardeners – in fact anyone with an interest in plants and their links with people and the planet."
- Adrian Whiteley
"As a specialist bookseller I am aware of the constant demand for books which deal with plants in the arts, in literature, in cookery and herbalism, medicine and pharmacy – the huge spread of man/plant inter-relationships.
We were once privileged to deal with the library of Anthony Huxley – a huge collection of nearly eight thousand volumes. And if there was one thread which linked his interests, it was the effect of man on plants and of plants on man. How impressed he would have been with Sue Eland's Plant Biographies? And how much fun, knowledge and information he would have gleaned from it?
This store-house of botanical and horticultural facts, continuously updated, a labour of love if ever there was one, is now available to everyone. I heartily recommend it. But I seriously worry that you may never need to buy a book again!"
- Mike Park
"Plant Biographies is the result of many years painstaking work by Sue Eland who has produced a work of such dimension that it requires a modern technology to do justice to it. Electronic publishing means that it can be published in full. It also simplifies access and cross-referencing. Any future updating will be able to be carried out quickly and comprehensively.
The author has researched and pulled together a vast body of information about plants drawing on a large number of sources. Having so much data available provides a good basis for study and comparison and will be a useful reference, and a starting point for further study for many grateful users."
- Francesca Greenoak, Editor of The Alexander Journal
Content of a Plant Biography 6
How to Use This Encyclopedic Dictionary 11
How the Project Began 12
Misguided Assumptions about Plants 14
The Integrity of Plant Biographies 16
Definitions of Botanical Names 19
Dictionary of Plant Biographies 274
Plants Are of No Consequence 5073
Full index 5079
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