The botany of desire : a plant’s-eye view of the world


New York: Random House, 2002


Pollan, Michael

Number of Pages




Publication Year


Original Language


Categories and Tags

Paperback, Botany

Dewey Subjects

Culture and Institutions > Social Sciences > Social sciences > Specific aspects of culture


In 1637, one Dutchman paid as much for a single tulip bulb as the going price of a townhouse in Amsterdam. Three and a half centuries later, Amsterdam is once again the mecca for people who care passionately about one particular plant—though this time, the obsessions revolve around the intoxicating effects of marijuana rather than the visual beauty of the tulip. How could flowers, of all things, become such objects of desire that they can drive men to financial ruin?

So who is domesticating whom? In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan argues that the answer lies at the heart of the intimately reciprocal relationship between people and plants. In telling the stories of four familiar plant species deeply woven into the fabric of our lives, Pollan illustrates how they evolved to satisfy humankind’s most basic yearnings and made themselves indispensable by doing so. For, just as we’ve benefited from these plants, the plants, in the grand co-evolutionary scheme that Pollan evokes so brilliantly, have done well by us. The sweetness of apples, for example, induced the early Americans to spread the species, giving the tree a whole new continent in which to blossom.

Weaving fascinating anecdotes and accessible science into gorgeous prose, Pollan takes us on an absorbing journey that will change how we think about our place in nature.



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