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Distributed for Reaktion Books


What is it about the small fruits of field and wood that encourage rapture? These gifts of the earth—flagrant in hedgerows, carpeting the forest floor or coloring tablelands—are so ubiquitous as to be commonplace and yet so extraordinary that we have woven them into our folklore, our fables, and our art. Strawberries were painted in the frescoes of Pompeii, brambles twined into the borders of medieval miniatures, and mulberries have been embroidered on silks and linens. Today, the huge demand for these nutrient-rich fruits is pushing berry cultivation into new territories, from South America to Scandinavia, and changing the nature of our relationship with these much-loved fruits. In this delightful, surprising, and occasionally juicy botanical exploration, Victoria Dickenson traces the humble berry’s journey across cultures and through centuries with humor and passion.

208 pages | 90 color plates, 10 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2


Biological Sciences: Botany

Culture Studies

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"Dickenson traces the humble berry’s journey across cultures and through the centuries with humor and passion."

Gardens Illustrated

"Berries is a visual feast. From the stunning front cover to the many color illustrations the book is a joy to behold. . . . There are no berries as delicious and satisfying as those that we grow or collect ourselves. This attractive and informative book helps us to appreciate them all the more."

OxVeg News

"This book brings to readers a beautifully packaged cultural and scientific exploration of some of the world’s favorite fruits. Dickenson, an amateur botanist, brings her skills with rare books and archives to the table as she highlights writings surrounding the history and lore of the berry across the centuries. The situation of berries in global culture is presented as a critical component of their history, and passages from the works of, e.g., Thoreau and Ovid provide context to Dickenson's characterization of the importance of berries throughout history. . . . Recommended."


"I thoroughly enjoyed Berries, particularly since I always like learning about the scientific basis for the history of the classification of food plants. . . . Berries are clearly a difficult food to classify, and Dickenson has managed to make the history of the taxonomy and cataloguing of these small fruits both entertaining and informative."

Digestible Bits and Bites

“A book that will change the way you think about berries, familiar and unfamiliar. Beautifully written, packed with information and arresting ideas, all six chapters will appeal to a range of readers, who can savor the mouthwatering illustrations as much as the harvest and preserves of the kitchen.”

Mark Laird, author of "A Natural History of English Gardening"

Table of Contents


1 Berries True and False
2 Berries in Mind
3 Berries in the Hand
4 Garden Varieties
5 Preserving the Harvest
6 The Global Berry

Associations and Websites
Photo Acknowledgements

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