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Though he didn't realize it at the time, David Lee began this book 25 years ago as he was hiking in the mountains outside Kuala Lumpur. Surrounded by the wonders of the jungle, Lee found his attention drawn to one plant in particular, a species of fern whose electric blue leaves shimmered amid the surrounding green. The evolutionary wonder of the fern's extravagant beauty filled Lee with awe - and set him on a career-long journey to understand everything about plant colours.
This book is a highly illustrated, immensely entertaining exploration of the science of plant colour. Beginning with potent reminders of how deeply interwoven plant colours are with human life and culture - from the shifting hues that told early humans when fruits and vegetables were edible to the indigo dyes that signified royalty for later generations - Lee moves easily through details of pigments, the evolution of colour perception, the nature of light, and dozens of other topics. Lee reveals the profound ways that efforts to understand and exploit plant colour have influenced every sphere of human life, from organic chemistry to Renaissance painting to the highly lucrative orchid trade.