As a child, Chris Thorogood dreamt of seeing Rafflesia, the world's largest flower. Today he is a botanist at the University of Oxford's Botanic Garden and has dedicated his life to studying the biology of such extraordinary plants. Rafflesia is a parasite, a thief. Having long ago abandoned photosynthesis, its leafless form steals food from the other plants it inhabits.
Many parasitic plants are poorly known to science, and these botanical enigmas fascinate Thorogood, just as they did when he was young. Working alongside botanists and foresters in Southeast Asia, he's documented Rafflesia in its natural habitat. Smacking off leeches, hanging off vines, wading through rivers and wrestling with the forest he's followed tribes into remote, untrodden rainforests to find Rafflesia's ghostly, foul-smelling blooms more than a metre across.
Thorogood introduces us to this mysterious world in which vines creep, forests whisper, and magnificent flowers unfold on every page. We depend on plants for our very existence, but two in five of the world's species are threatened with extinction. As we explore this fast-disappearing wilderness, Pathless Forest presents a call to action to safeguard the environment, to look beyond the beautiful backdrop described here and see plants in a different way, as vital for our own future and for that of the planet we share together.
Chris Thorogood is a botanist and lecturer at the University of Oxford, where he holds the position of Deputy Director and Head of Science at Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum. His research focuses on the evolution of parasitic and carnivorous plants, taxonomic diversity in biodiversity hotspots around the world, and biomimetics – exploring the potential applications of plants in technology. An author and broadcaster, he makes regular appearances on TV and radio and is also an award-winning botanical illustrator and wildlife artist. Obsessed with plants, he is on a mission to make everyone see them differently and realize how they, people and the planet are all connected.