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British Wildlife is the leading natural history magazine in the UK, providing essential reading for both enthusiast and professional naturalists and wildlife conservationists. Published eight times a year, British Wildlife bridges the gap between popular writing and scientific literature through a combination of long-form articles, regular columns and reports, book reviews and letters.

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Good Reads  Botany  Economic Botany & Ethnobotany

Planting Clues How Plants Solve Crimes

Popular Science
By: David J Gibson(Author)
241 pages, 4 plates with 5 colour photos and colour illustrations; 10 b/w photos and b/w illustrations
Planting Clues
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  • Planting Clues ISBN: 9780198868606 Hardback Aug 2022 In stock
Price: £18.99
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

Discover the extraordinary role of plants in modern forensics, from their use as evidence in the trials of high profile murderers such as Ted Bundy to high-value botanical trafficking and poaching.

We are all familiar with the role of blood splatters or fingerprints in solving crimes, from stories in the media of DNA testing or other biological evidence being used as the clinching evidence to incriminate a killer. This book lifts the lid on the equally important evidence from plants at a crime scene, from the incriminating presence of freshwater plants in the lungs of a drowning victim to rare botanical poisons in the evening gin and tonic to exotic trafficked flowers and drugs.

In Planting Clues, David Gibson explores how plants can help to solve crimes, as well as how plant crimes are themselves solved. He discusses the botanical evidence that proved important in bringing a number of high-profile murderers such as Ian Huntley (the 2002 Shoham Murders), and Bruno Hauptman (the 1932 Baby Lindbergh kidnapping) to trial, from leaf fragments and wood anatomy to pollen and spores. Throughout he traces the evolution of forensic botany and shares the fascinating stories that advanced its progress.


Prologue: An Entangled Bank
1. A Tree Never Lies
2. Everything That's Touched
3. Getting Caught Up
4. Every Particle Tells A Story
5. It's in the Genes
6. A Forensic Pharmacopoeia
7. Hiding in Plain Sight
8. Juice of Cursed Hebenon
Coda: Moving Forward

Customer Reviews


David J. Gibson is a Professor of Plant Biology and University Distinguished Scholar at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He is Senior Editor of the Journal of Ecology, and author of a number of books, including Grasslands and Climate Change (2019, with J. A. Newman), Methods in Comparative Plant Population Ecology, 2nd edition (2015) and Grasses and Grassland Ecology (2009).

Popular Science
By: David J Gibson(Author)
241 pages, 4 plates with 5 colour photos and colour illustrations; 10 b/w photos and b/w illustrations
Media reviews

"Planting Clues opens up a world that few of us know about, and while the book is heavy on technical details, it manages to balance these with (often brutal) case studies that help to bring to life the many ways in which plants (and botanists) have helped to solve crimes. This makes the pages fly by."
– Kit Gillet, Geographical

"David Gibson provides an engaging introduction, eminently readable [...] Not only is Planting Clues a great and fascinating read that will be devoured by both those lay folk into popular science and crime procedural stories alike, but also those who have studied biological sciences, are doing so, or are thinking of embarking on a bioscience course [...] I highly recommend [it]."
– Jonathan Cowie, SF2 Concatenation

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