Carnivorous Plants

Dan Torre

Carnivorous Plants

Dan Torre

Distributed for Reaktion Books

240 pages | 110 color plates, 10 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Cloth $27.00 ISBN: 9781789140521 Published July 2019 For sale in North and South America only
Carnivorous plants are a unique botanical group, possessing modified leaves to trap, kill, and consume small creatures. As a result they are often depicted as killers in films and literature—from Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors to the world-dominating plants of The Day of the Triffids—yet many people regard carnivorous plants as exotic and beautiful specimens to collect and display.

In this abundantly illustrated and highly entertaining book, Dan Torre describes the evolution, structure, and scientific background of carnivorous plants. Examining their cultural and social history, he also shows how they have inspired our imagination and been represented in art, literature, cinema, animation, and popular culture.

From the Venus flytrap—a species endemic to the Carolinas—to pitcher plants, this fascinating history of these singular, arresting, beautiful, yet deadly plants is certain to be devoured.
Review Quotes
Laurence A. Marschall | Natural History
"Dozens of photographs in Carnivorous Plants highlight the delicate beauty and adaptivity of these vegetable wonders, and a list of resources at the end includes carnivorous plant conservation organizations, blogs, and live-plant suppliers. Most readers of Torre’s appreciative little book, no doubt, will cast aside fears and fantasy and, perhaps, even invite a few of the little meat eaters into their homes and gardens."
Choice
"In this enjoyable and informative book, Torre provides a broad introduction to what makes a plant 'carnivorous,' taking a modern approach to the topic that not only includes the classic insect capture by the infamous Venus flytrap (Dionaea) and sundew (Drosera), but also presents a newer understanding of mineral nutrient acquisition from bacterial decomposition, and even the symbiotic use of mammalian fecal matter by the tropical pitcher plants (Nepenthes). The work stands out for its broad historical perspective, providing numerous illustrations reproduced from early works. . . . The science is accurate and is supported by adequate references that do not overwhelm the reader, making this an especially accessible work on a truly fascinating group of plants. Highly recommended."
Age (Australia)
"There’s no denying that carnivorous plants—diminutive as they tend to be—have made great subjects for horror stories. . . . Their appearances in films, television series, and books as monster plants that munch on humans as compulsively as if they were chocolates is one of the themes of a new book, Carnivorous Plants. . . . Torre takes a broader approach to these green predators than the authors of most other books on the subject. He looks at how they have inspired artists, clothing designers, and industrial designers. . . . Torre also explores all the ways in which meat-eating plants feed our imagination. He also lays bare how the behavior of real-life carnivorous plants is often so outlandish you couldn’t make it up."
Gardening Australia Magazine
"We’re not inclined to think of plants deriving nourishment from 'meat' and yet there are currently more than seven-hundred recognized species of carnivorous plants. This book features exquisite images of many of them, along with the author’s entertaining and comprehensive information on their evolution, structure, scientific background, and social and cultural history."
Botany One
"Carnivorous Plants is a highly readable, informative, and entertaining natural history."
Tim Entwistle, director and CEO, Royal Botanic Gardens, Victoria, Australia
“The storytelling is exemplary. . . . Torre takes you from Ed Wood to Pokémon, from surrealistic art to synergistic relationships between bats and plants, all without missing a beat. This is one of those books that takes an already fascinating topic—animal-eating plants—and makes it even more exciting, more weird, and endlessly fascinating.”
Randall W. Robinson, Victoria University Melbourne
Carnivorous Plants is one of the few books that provides sound information and interweaves various fields of knowledge that would not normally come together creating a body of work that is comprehensive. The style is easily accessible and ultimately readable and entertaining.”
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