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Plants of the World

An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Vascular Plants

Plants of the World is the first book to systematically explore every vascular plant family on earth—more than four hundred and fifty of them—organized in a modern phylogenetic order. Detailed entries for each family include descriptions, distribution, evolutionary relationships, and fascinating information on economic uses of plants and etymology of their names. All entries are also copiously illustrated in full color with more than 2,500 stunning photographs. A collaboration among three celebrated botanists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Plants of the World is authoritative, comprehensive, and beautiful. Covering everything from ferns to angiosperms, it will be an essential resource for practicing botanists, horticulturists, and nascent green thumbs alike.

816 pages | 3000 color plates | 9-3/8 x 11 | © 2017

Biological Sciences: Botany, Natural History

Reference and Bibliography


"Some people have a hard time getting excited about reference books. Then there are those of us who have difficulty containing our excitement—especially if the book is excellent or beautiful. And friends, Plants of the World is both. . . . The authors, all Kew Royal Botanic Gardens botanists, have clearly done their homework. The information they provide is comprehensive and consistent from section to section; it's technical enough to be useful to those in the life sciences, while remaining straightforward enough for those whose interest is avocational. The book is full of fascinating facts, such as the story of treelike ferns once believed to produce lambs that were simultaneously plant and animal. The full-color photos are plentiful and gorgeous."

American Scientist

"What an impressive tome Plants of the World is! Weighing-in at a coffee-table-busting 7 lb 2 oz., this 28.5 x 23.5 x 5.0 cm of hard-backed book begins—usefully, and importantly—with a two-page spread entitled 'How to use this book.' This guides the reader through the layout of a typical family entry. . . . Plants of the World is not only a very worthy successor to Heywood et al’s Flowering Plant Families of the World, it takes this visually-appealing, encyclopaedic cataloguing of plant diversity to the next level. Get hold of a copy and immerse yourself in the botanical riches within—as we all await the next generation text (that will include all the families of all the groups within the Kingdom Plantae…)."

Nigel Chaffey | Botany One

“When Plants of the World arrived on my desk recently I was not only impressed by what is a beautiful publication but also by the wealth, depth, and comprehensiveness of its contents. . . . It provides an excellent and erudite introduction to the green and botanical diversity that surrounds us. . . . Beautiful. . . . I was enthralled, and one has to say, even overawed, by the wealth of information and depth of knowledge in this book.”

Reckless Gardener

"Move over Mabberley! Plants of the World is a magisterial treatment of the 451 plant families of the world and like Mabberley's Plant Book will become a classic and an invaluable reference for botanists—though not as portable. Plants of the World is crammed with detail delicious to a botanist yet accessible to any user. . . . This is an essential work that belongs on the bookshelf of every botanist."

Lytton John Musselman, Old Dominion University | Plant Science Bulletin

“A taxonomic bible. It is also full of fascinating facts about people’s uses of plants—reflecting, as it does, Kew’s expertise in economic botany. The otherworldliness of some of the flowers and foliage has triggered some fresh concepts for structures and patterns in fences and paving—while taking me back full circle, to my textile roots.”

ProLandscaper Magazine

“This is destined to become a classic reference work—and one where beauty and science are combined to illustrate the incredible diversity and importance of plants to life on earth. From the first page onwards, the text and illustrations portray the unique, bizarre, functional, and useful aspects of the plant kingdom in intricate detail. It is entirely fitting that Kew should be publishing this exceptional work; Kew’s strategic aim is ‘to be a global resource in plant knowledge’—this book brings this knowledge into the public domain in glorious technicolor detail.”

Kathy Willis, director of science, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Table of Contents

How to use this book
Evolution of land plants
Plants and human culture
Naming plants
Classification and the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group
Fossil plants
Etymology and common names
Economic botany
The ANA grade families
Photography credits
Further reading
General references


Choice Magazine: CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title Awards

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