Prof. Mancuso’s Botanical Believe-It-Or-Not

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This book explores extremes of plant science that will blow your mind. Stephano Mancuso, a plant neurobiologist at the University of Florence, reveals that:

  • Plants absorb nuclear radiation that would kill humans, and that’s why the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is now a wildlife refuge.
  • Water hyacinths are so invasive that once there was a plan to introduce hippopotami into Louisiana to eat them.
  • Some plants distribute their seeds by hitching rides on motor vehicles.
  • A weeping willow tree that grew 1,214 feet from ground zero at Hiroshima regenerated itself from its roots and is alive today.
  • To this day, botanists still don’t know where the coconut originated and what routes it used to spread around the world.
  • A Norway Spruce tree named “Old TjIkko” is the oldest plant in the world at 9560 years. It regenerates its trunk every 500 t0 700 years.
  • A single spruce tree on remote Campbell Island, 375 miles south of New Zealand, is so far away from another tree of the same species that Guinness World Records has named it “the loneliest tree in the world.”

All this and much more makes for fascinating reading, especially if you’re crazy about plants like I am.

Note to the publisher: The watercolor illustrations in the book are mostly incomprehensible and distract from the text rather than enhancing it. An example: