Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Private Life of Plants

The Private Life of Plants
© 1995 David Attenborough
320 pages

I spend a little time every week contemplating my home library's eviscerated science section, hoping against hope to find some interesting volume amid the remains. Last week, picking through the rubble led me to Sir David Attenborough's excellent The Private Life of Plants, a book in the same style as his numerous nature documentaries (The Lives of Mammals, Planet Earth, and others).  Separate chapters discuss transportation, feeding and growth, flowering, the social struggle, the relationships plants have with one another and various animals, and surviving. In each section, Attenborough  documents the extraordinary details of plant's every-day lives. The narrative is replete with pictures -- no page is without one, and some pages are dominated by full-page   or even centerfold spreads.  The content is ever fascinating and sometimes bizarre. I learned, for instance, that there is a species of jellyfish that house algae inside their transparent bodies: they spend the day near the surface of the ocean allowing the algae to grow, and then partially digest the growth without destroying the algae. In effect, they have garden inside their bodies. If you find this book, by all means take a look at it. It's bound to be one of the more interesting books on the natural world you've yet seen.

This is part of a series of books by Attenborough, which you can expect I'll be visiting further.They appear to have been converted from film documentaries.

One of the book's many fascinating pictures. That husk houses a seed.

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