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Distributed for Reaktion Books


Few weeds have been more successful throughout history than the poppy. Hated by farmers for its stubbornness, the poppy has been a favorite of artists and poets, due to its distinct and brilliant color, and it has functioned symbolically as everything from a war memorial to an emblem of the exotic cultures of the East. In this book, Andrew Lack explores all the aspects of one of our most familiar flowers, combining biology, history, and culture to paint a bright portrait of this fascinating plant.
            Lack looks deep into the past of the poppy’s ancient history—before it seemed to inhabit only ditches and cornfields—and examines the biology that gives it its unique coloring. He analyzes the poppy’s many members of this beautiful family, including the opium poppy, which is the source of one of the world’s oldest—and most ravaging—narcotics. He describes how the poppy came to be associated with war and remembrance, and he looks at how they have been used to commemorate everything from weddings to funerals. Beautifully illustrated, the book will appeal to gardeners or anyone fascinated by the way plants have so powerfully figured in human culture and traditions.

224 pages | 70 color plates, 30 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2016


Biological Sciences: Botany

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"The illustrations are spaced perfectly with the text so that as a page is turned, the appropriate image appears. The illustrations never appear too early or too late. Amazing! . . . The index is modest and shows twenty-seven varieties of poppies—a tribute to the author’s thoroughness. . . . Along with the editor’s care in layout, the paper stock choice, and the portability of the book, all validate the neo-Luddites’ claim that physical books still matter."


"Gorgeously illustrated. . . . Poppy ranges widely in both period and subject, from Assyrian carvings of poppy capsules and Claude Monet's impressionist paintings of poppy fields to the use of poppy seed in modern cooking, and the grim ironies of the twenty-first-century Afghan opium trade. But the book is probably at its strongest with the science of poppies, particularly their botany. How fascinating to know that as the corn poppy spread from its presumed origin in the eastern Mediterranean northwards into Europe, it changed both its method of pollination from beetles to bees and its color: and that these two facts are interrelated by natural selection."


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