Demons in Eden
The Paradox of Plant Diversity
Demons in Eden considers these questions using the latest scientific discoveries from the plant world. Readers join Silvertown as he explores the astonishing diversity of plant life in regions as spectacular as the verdant climes of Japan, the lush grounds of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, the shallow wetlands and teeming freshwaters of Florida, the tropical rainforests of southeast Mexico, and the Canary Islands archipelago, whose evolutionary novelties—and exotic plant life—have earned it the sobriquet "the Galapagos of botany." Along the way, Silvertown looks closely at the evolution of plant diversity in these locales and explains why such variety persists in light of ecological patterns and evolutionary processes. In novel and useful ways, he also investigates the current state of plant diversity on the planet to show the ever-challenging threats posed by invasive species and humans.
Bringing the secret life of plants into more colorful and vivid focus than ever before, Demons in Eden is an empathic and impassioned exploration of modern plant ecology that unlocks evolutionary mysteries of the natural world.
1. An Evolving Eden
2. The Tree of Trees
3. Succulent Isles
4. Demon Mountain
5. The Panama Paradox
6. Nix Nitch
7. Liebig's Revenge
9. New Demons?
10. The End of Eden?
Scientific Names of Plants Mentioned in the Text
Sources and Further Reading
“Silvertown’s enthusiasm for scientific sleuthing is infectious.”
“Silvertown has a knack for explaining complex biological concepts in an accessible and engaging way. He deftly uses analogy and example to illustrate his discussions, and often waxes lyrical in his descriptions.”
“A fascinating journey with an affable host. . . . we get to the heart of so many issues relating to why plants are the way they are, and we are the richer for it.”
“Demons in Eden is a grand scientific narrative, full of vivid description, clear analysis, and personal warmth—an enthralling read and an important contribution to our understanding of biodiversity.”
“An inspiring tour through the sheer wonder of plant life and the key ideas on how plant diversity came about. This book takes us inside the grand theatre of plant diversity—and also asks how we would like the current act to end.”
“In a sequence of cameos each as invigorating as a stroll in a mountain meadow, with marvelous clarity and wit Jonathan Silvertown entices us on a quest. By means of fascinating insights, we explore those several paths along which scientists have deduced how plant diversity has arisen and is sustained. Hidden within these tales lies a rigorous text on evolution, the lessons from which are then compellingly applied to address those threats to diversity which we, the current demons, have created.”
“Demons in Eden is a riveting account of the effort to understand—and to stop—the tragic loss of plant species throughout the world. A compelling journey to the very frontiers of science that hold the answer to one of the most crucial questions of our age: why is nature disappearing and what can we do about it?”