An acclaimed nature writer reveals the secret life of flowers. In Anatomy of a Rose, Sharman Apt Russell eloquently unveils the "inner life" of flowers. From their diverse fragrances to their nasty deceptions, Russell proves that, where nature is concerned, 'wonder is not only our starting point, it can also be our destination.'
Throughout this botanical journey, she reveals that the science behind these intelligent plants - how they evolved, how they survive, how they heal - is even more awe-inspiring than their fleeting beauty. Russell helps us imagine what a field of snapdragons looks like to a honeybee, and she introduces us to flowers that regulate their own temperature, attract pollinating bats, even smell like a rotting corpse. She also delves into cutting-edge research on everything from flower senses to their healing power.
Long used to ease everything from depression to childbirth, flowers are now our main line of defence against childhood leukaemia and the deadly Ebola virus. In this wonderful book, which combines graceful writing with a scientist's clarity, Russell brings together the work of botanists around the globe, and illuminates a world at once familiar and exotic.
From Hindu mythology to Aztec sacrifices, butterflies have served as a metaphor for resurrection and transformation. Even during World War II, children in a Polish death camp scratched hundreds of butterflies onto the wall of their barracks. But as Sharman Apt Russell points out in this rich and lyrical meditation, butterflies have above all been objects of obsession.
From the beastly horned caterpillar whose blood helps it count time, to the peacock butterfly with wings that hiss like a snake, Russell traces butterflies through their life cycles, exploring the creatures' own obsessions with eating, mating, and migrating. She reveals the logic behind our endless fascination with butterflies as well as the driving passion of such legendary collectors as the tragic Eleanor Glanville, whose children declared her mad because of her compulsive butterfly collecting, and the brilliant Henry Walter Bates, whose collections from the Amazon in 1858 helped develop his theory of mimicry in nature.
Russell also takes us inside some of the world's most prestigious natural history museums, where scientists painstakingly catalogue and categorize new species of Lepidoptera, hoping to shed light on insect genetics and evolutionAn Obsession with Butterflies is a luminous journey through an exotic world of strange beauty; a book to be treasured by anyone who's ever watched a butterfly mid-flight.