Monday, November 29, 2010

Bizarre Botanicals by Dr. Larry Mellichamp and Paula Gross

Spider's tresses, Strophanthus preussii

A few weeks ago I told you about winning a copy of Bizarre Botanicals from Timber Press on Twitter. (Way excited!)  Since the holidays are fast approaching, I thought it would be a good time to remind you about the book so you can hop over to your favorite online bookstore and order it for yourself or for someone on your Christmas list.

Bizarre Botanicals is about unusual and fascinating plants from all over the world that you can grow at home.  Author Dr. Larry Mellichamp has more than 30 years of experience studying and teaching botany at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

I have taken many of Dr. M's classes over the years and I can tell you there is no end to his passion for plants and teaching about them -- always with a creative twist and some humor.  For example, he has been known to chew up a juniper berry with his front teeth (like a rabbit) and then tell the class full of onlookers that it tasted, "a little sweet, but mostly like a ... a... freshly cleaned bathroom."

Co-author Paula Gross adds her many years of experience as a horticulturist and greenhouse manager.  Together they have a lively book with -- by the way -- gorgeous photos that the two of them, along with Paula's father Richard Gross, took.

Earlier in November, the two introduced their book at Atkins Library on the UNC-Charlotte campus. Dr. Mellichamp explained how the plants for the book were chosen.  The plants had to be able to reproduce sexually.  In other words, they had to occur naturally, somewhere.  And, they chose only those "three ring circus" plants -- the ones that "fill us with wonder and imagination." All plants had to be "growable and obtainable" for the home gardener.

Paula Gross explained that photosynthetic organisms are the basis for life on Earth. "It is a modern phenomenon not to have a close relationship with plants. This book's underlying goal is to bring light to plant blindness."

Bizarre Botanicals is a fun and informative book.  Take advantage of Cyber Monday and get your copy!

The photos in this post, except for the book cover, are mine.  Timber Press has a preview with photos and excerpts from the book on their website.


  1. I'll add it to my Christmas wish list.

  2. Those Spider's tresses, are fantastic.

  3. I love the quote about it being "a modern phenomenon not to have a close relationship with plants." I think an ideal gift for someone who doesn't fit that description would be this book paired with a gift certificate to Plant Delights Nursery.

    I think I'd rather imagine juniper tasting like gin than a restroom (clean or not). Well... maybe bathtub gin?

  4. I know nothing about Spider tresses but your photo makes me want to see the real thing. Same with your book review.