234 pages, 16 plates with colour photos; b/w illustrations
From the world's tiniest waterlily to the 'Coral Tree', Carlos Magdalena has an uncanny ability to bring rare, breathtakingly beautiful plants back from the brink of extinction. As botanical horticulturist at London's famous Kew Gardens – the most biodiverse place on the planet – he has over 7,000 species under his care in his 'Noah's Ark' plant nursery. He is highly regarded around the world for his pioneering work with waterlilies, battling to save rare specimens against man-made ecological destruction and even thieves hunting for wealthy collectors. Carlos travels to remote and dangerous locations – from the jungles of Mauritius to the most remote areas of the Australian outback – and develops groundbreaking, leftfield techniques to encourage weird and wonderful plants to propagate and prosper. In The Plant Messiah, Carlos shares his thrilling adventures, telling the stories of these incredible plants and his lifetime spent racing to save them.
"This full-throttle memoir is a window on the exploits that underpin the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew [...] reveals the rare mix of zeal and patience needed to hunt vanishing plants"
"Impressive, gripping and important [...] Some 30,000 plants have recorded uses for humans. Most people, the messiah preaches, are blind to these everyday miracles. This book will teach them to see"
"An engaging piece of work"
– Charles Elliott, Literary Review
"Eye-popping [...] The Plant Messiah reads like a detective novel. [This] is a thrillingly uplifting book. There is a beguiling energy to his prose that clearly he has in person"
– Daily Mail
"Botany, on its face, doesn't sound particularly thrilling. This book will change your mind"
– Bill McKibben, New York Times bestselling author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet and Radio Free Vermont
"An entertaining, planterly romp around the world and a glimpse inside one of the world's great botanical institutions from this Kew botanist"
– Jane Owen, Financial Times
"Carlos Magdalena is Kew's codebreaker"
"Carlos is an inspiration to me. He's the perfect spokesperson for the plants of the world"
– Jane Goodall, primatologist and UN Messenger of Peace
"Carlos has been able to achieve things with plants that no one else can do"
– Richard Barley, director of horticulture, Kew
"He has the uncanny ability to bring plants back from the brink of extinction"
– People of London
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Carlos Magdalena is the Tropical Senior Botanical Horticulturist at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, an international lecturer and Chairman of the International Waterlily & Water Gardens Society. He is renowned for his unique skills as a plant propagator who is saving the world's rarest plants.