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Demons in Eden: The Paradox of Plant Diversity

Demons in Eden: The Paradox of Plant Diversity
Jonathan W. Silvertown
University of Chicago Press
Publication Date: 

hardcover, 169 p., $25.00

The story of the evolution of plant species and global biodiversity holds the reader’s rapt attention in this book by Jonathan Silvertown. Silvertown is an accomplished educator with an engaging literary style that is both educational and entertaining. He masterfully explains plant species, evolution, and classification. He describes both Charles Darwin’s revolutionary scientific concepts as well as the recent biochemical systems for identification. He points out that those individual species that are more successful at reproduction have the potential for becoming the greatest nemesis for others. In his words, they become Darwinian demons with the capability of populating the entire world. Other plants that are considered devilish are quick-growing species, such as the Kudzu vine, that overwhelm other vegetation in the southern region of the United States. Silvertown examines several methods that Mother Nature has provided species to defend themselves from such demon plants, so that there is continued biodiversity. Highly recommended, this gem of a book is packed with stimulating explanations about plant life and the wonder of its diversity.

— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden