The Green Earth: An Invitation to Botany

The Green Earth: An Invitation to Botany

The Green Earth: An Invitation to Botany

The Green Earth: An Invitation to Botany

Excerpt

"Although my paines have not been spent (curteous Reader) in the gratuitous discoveries of golden mines, nor in the tracing after silver veins, whereby my native country might be enriched with such merchandize as it hath most in request and admiration; yet hath my labor (I trust) been otherwise profitably employed, in descrying of such a harmless treasure of herbes, trees, and plants, as the earth frankely without violence offereth unto our most necessarie uses." In these words, written 350 years ago, a certain irony may be discerned. Today the tables are turned, gold and silver are no longer in such high esteem, and men are burning, pillaging, and slaying largely for those treasures of the earth which are not so free nor so harmless as we had supposed. We have been rather painfully reminded that our breakfasts and our transport depend upon many plants which grow overseas; it is perhaps not so generally understood that all our warring is largely about plants as our living is based on them. Still less (in an age when information is supposed to be the goal of education) are the principles understood which shape our relations with plants. It is with such principles that this book is concerned.

In Gerard's words may also be discerned that delight in nature which animates every naturalist. The botanist of today enjoys great advantages over the herbalist of the sixteenth century. For one thing, he has found his way into a new world of beauty scarcely suspected by the uninitiated; a world penetrated only by the microscope. Something of what he sees there is to be found in the drawings on the following pages; which in general are designed not only to assist in the exposition of detail but to offer a glimpse into the beauties of science. Imperfect and limited as they are . . .

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