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Wicked Plants

The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


A tree that sheds poison daggers; a glistening red seed that stops the heart; a shrub that causes paralysis; a vine that strangles; and a leaf that triggered a war. In Wicked Plants, Stewart takes on over two hundred of Mother Nature’s most appalling creations. It’s an A to Z of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend. You’ll learn which plants to avoid (like exploding shrubs), which plants make themselves exceedingly unwelcome (like the vine that ate the South), and which ones have been killing for centuries (like the weed that killed Abraham Lincoln's mother).

Menacing botanical illustrations and splendidly ghastly drawings create a fascinating portrait of the evildoers that may be lurking in your own backyard. Drawing on history, medicine, science, and legend, this compendium of bloodcurdling botany will entertain, alarm, and enlighten even the most intrepid gardeners and nature lovers.

Customer Reviews

Wicked Maybe but Engaging, No

The book is not as good as I hoped it would be. The writing comes off as something like a grocery list. One thing I really don't understand is why the author chose to italicize two or three sentences she had already said earlier, in every chapter. Essentially she quotes herself, repeating word for word something just said. I would guess about 1/20th of the book is repeats. Very dull.

I do come away with a new found respect for plants in the wild (don't touch anything you are not absolutely sure of & God forbid you put any plant part in your mouth). My garden makes me a little nervous now as I'm sitting inside eyeing my Sago Palm with some wariness. It's so beautiful, but....

Fascinating subject given a dull, flat treatment

I was so excited about diving into this book...yet now realize I should have read the other review of this book. The intriguing subject matter is reduced to a monotone list of Wikipedia-like factoids.

Furthermore in a botanical book I expect photos or at least detailed illustrations. What are provided are high school sketches that far from illustrate the plants being discussed. If I stumbled upon one of these plants right after reading the text I would have no idea of what I was seeing. Some of the drawings in fact are just weird: a poorly rendered man with arrows sticking out of his throat...why?... To illustrate that a particular plant's sap was used for poison arrows!

Another odd point as noted by a previous reviewer is the strange re-quoting of the text throughout the if to pad out this rather thin offering.

Overall a very disappointing the degree that I'll avoid this author henceforth.

Very interesting

Lots of examples of plants behaving badly! I'm intrigued by how plants evolve to protect themselves and they interact with the environment around them and this book kept me coming back. My biggest complaint is that it doesn't contain photographs of the plants being discussed.

Wicked Plants
View in iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Nature
  • Published: May 21, 2009
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books
  • Seller: Workman Publishing Co., Inc.
  • Print Length: 223 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings