Carnivorous plants include some of the most extraordinary organisms in the vegetable kingdom. Though rare amongst plants as a whole, there are more than 700 species of plant that trap and kill animals for their own nourishment worldwide. Such plants are not restricted to the mysterious depths of tropical forests or inaccessible mountain peaks, but occur all around us. Britain and Ireland are collectively home to more than a dozen native plant carnivores. Though increasingly rare as a result of habitat loss, sundews, butterworts and bladderworts can still be found across the wetlands and pristine watercourses of many parts of the islands.
This fully illustrated guide to the carnivorous plants of Britain and Ireland features over 200 images and documents all recognised native species and their hybrids, as well as the non-native species that have become naturalised to form self-sustaining populations on these shores.
An overview of each group of native carnivorous plant is provided, with line drawings and selected photographs to document their particular characteristics. Each species or hybrid thereof is subsequently addressed within its own entry that includes a variety of illustrations of the plant, a detailed description, range map, habitat photos, and, where relevant, notes of interest about the plant within the context of Britain and Ireland. The history of carnivorous plants, a story that involves none other than Charles Darwin himself, as well as their evolution, is discussed in detail. Finally, some of the issues facing carnivorous plants on these shores is discussed, followed by a selection listing a broad selection of resources, including carnivorous plant nurseries and horticultural groups, that are bound to be of interest to those who wish to see them in the field, or cultivate them in their own homes.
Tim Bailey studied Environmental Science at Plymouth University, England, specialising in geology and hydrogeology. He currently works as a senior agriculture technical advisor for the Environmental Agency in England and Wales. He is a passionate horticulturist and has researched and grown carnivorous plants for over thirty years. Tim has studied all of the native and non-native carnivorous plant species in Britain and Ireland in the field over several decades.
Stewart McPherson is an awarded natural history author and presenter of wildlife documentaries broadcast on the BBC and internationally. He has travelled extensively over the past decade to study and photograph carnivorous plants in order to research and write more than 20 books about these unusual subjects. He has discovered and named 35 new species, including two of the largest pitcher plants ever found. Stewart founded Redfern Natural History to produce specialist wildlife books and documentaries.
"[...] Most of what you would expect is here: a bit of evolutionary history and habitats, quite a bit about Darwin’s experiments and on capture mechanisms, and even a short section on the unlikely medical uses of sundews and butterworts. The colour illustrations are lavish, the cover is waterproofed for feld use, and the book is very good value. All the same, I was disappointed. The authors’ enthusiasm for these wonderful and eerily beautiful plants is not reflected in their writing. [...] This feld guide is a long way better than nothing, but n their desire to be factual and scientifc the authors have missed the magic."
– Peter Marren, British Wildlife, Volume 29(2)