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Published by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in association with the Open University


We live surrounded by the beauty—and the bounty—of the botanical world, but rarely do we stop to think seriously about all the roles plants play, many of them crucial to life on earth. After reading Why People Need Plants, however, we won’t be likely to take the earth’s flora for granted ever again.

Accessible and wide-ranging, Why People Need Plants covers such topics as food production, biofuels, medicine, biodiversity, conservation, economics, genetic modification, and many more—all aimed at demonstrating the importance of plants to nearly every aspect of human life and society. A collaboration between the Open University and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, with assistance from the Royal Horticultural Society, the book will inform—and surprise—plant lovers, gardeners, and students of all levels of knowledge.

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I give this book 8 out of 10 acorns

This book was written to accompany a short introductory science course for the Open University, and is designed to be a perfect introduction to both the world of plants and to studying science at university level. As such, it is very well written, superbly illustrated, accurate, complete, and represents the state of accepted scientific thinking at the time of writing, which was in 2010.

From the back cover.

We live surrounded by the beauty and the bounty of the plant world, but we rarely pause to think about the crucial roles that plants play in nearly every aspect of human life and society. Why People Need Plants is a wide-ranging and attractive introduction to the science behind the essential functions performed by plants that affect our everyday lives. It explains why plants are fundamental to what we eat and drink, how they provide the raw materials for our clothes, building materials, biofuels, medicines and drugs, and their role in solving crime. The impact of humans on ecosystems that depend on plants is discussed, as are the consequences of this interference in a world where climates are changing.

Why People Need Plants has been written and illustrated by expert scientists from The Open University and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and accompanies the The Open University course Plants and People

With its clear, unambiguous text, diagrams and illustration, Why People Need Plants is a comprehensive introduction to the world of plants and why we need them.

The book is divided into four sections.

The first section covers Uses of Plants and comprises chapters on Food crops, Wood, fibre and starch crops, Biofuels, and Plants in crime.

The second section covers Plants and Health, with chapters on Plants for nutrition and well-being, Medicinal plants, and Drink and drugs.

The third section is about Modern Techniques in Plant Biology and covers Micropropagation, Genetically modified plants, and Natrual plant protection.

The fourth and final section turns to Plants and the Planet with chapters on The impact of humankind on the planet, Conservation, Plant collecting and Trading, and Plants and the future.

I had studied a few short courses similar to the one this book was written for with the Open University and had not only thoroughly enjoyed them but was highly impressed with them. I bought a few of the course books, including this one, for my son to study as he made the transition between high-school and university level study. This one seemed to provide a good background to a lot of the science underlying permaculture and also had a really good breadth, putting plants firmly in perspective as far more than just suppliers of food. And I was not disappointed in it. The illustrations are superb, the diagrams accurate, and as it's written as a serious textbook but with the aim of encouraging adults who may not have ever studied science before to start degree-level studies, it's highly accessible.

I can highly recommend this book to anyone who feels they need more background in plant science, or who might not be sure what is 'real science' and what is 'woo-woo as this book is pure science, as accepted by the academic community. It's also rather beautiful, thoroughly mind-expanding, and gives a good, solid base of understanding on which to build your own experience and ideas. '
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