Canadian Woodworking

Around the world in 80 plants

You don't have to be a botanist to enjoy this book. It's a captivating read filled with remarkable facts about some of natures most interesting plants.


You don't have to be a botanist to enjoy this book. It's a captivating read filled with remarkable facts about some of natures most interesting plants.

Author: Carl Duguay

Last year I had the pleasure of reviewing “Around the World in 80 Trees“, one of the most enjoyable books on trees I’ve read in quite some time. The author, Jonathan Drori, has now followed up with an equally delightful foray into the plant world. 80 absorbing (and often bizarre) shrubs, herbs, flowers and of course, more trees, all wonderfully illustrated by Lucille Clerc. And, if, like me you’re a dedicated dissectologist (aka puzzle enthusiast) there is a companion puzzle to the book: Around the World in 50 Plants.

PublisherLaurence King Publishing
Author: Jonathan Drori
Price: $37.35 (hardcover book); $29.99 (paperback); $29.99 (puzzle)
ISBN: 978-1786272300 (hardcover); 978-1399610698 (softcover)
Year: 2021 (hardcover); 2023 (softcover, puzzle)
Format: book: 216 pages; puzzle: 1,000 pieces

While we may take plants for granted, they are, apart from humans, the most important organisms on the planet. Without them there would be no food – and precious little oxygen.  And don’t forget fiber, shelter, shade, furnishings, building materials, medicine, fuel… the list goes on.

Drori has chosen 80 wild and cultivated plants (of the nearly 400,000 species worldwide) to delve into how they have impacted the evolution of our species and our quality of life. Among other things he comments on a plant’s appearance, how it reproduces, it’s connection to the broader ecological environment in which we live and how its impacted our cultural evolution. He’s chosen 21 plants form Europe, 12 from Africa and the Middle East, 18 from Asia, 7 from Oceania, 11 from South America and a dozen from North America. Some will be familiar, others less so. Like a good tour bus driver, Drori’s anecdotes are always interesting, educational and entertaining. Even for the plants that I was familiar with, he provided new interesting (and amusing) facts.

I don’t think the book would be half as entertaining without the contribution by Clerc. Her lavish, brightly coloured  illustrations bring the text alive.

This is a book to that will appeal to all ages, and one that is meant to be savoured rather than digested at one reading.

50 plants

I enjoy puzzles or all kinds and found the 1000-piece “Around the World in 50 Plants” jigsaw puzzle a nice challenge.  On a scale of 1 to 5 I would rate it as a 4. Definitely a challenging puzzle that you’re not going to complete in a single sitting. I worked on it for about an hour each evening over a one week period. The completed puzzle measures 48.5 x 68 cm (19″ x 27″). Fortunately it comes with a comprehensive poster guide that serves as a great reference while racking your brain (and stretching your patience) to put the puzzle together. My only complaint is that the pieces don’t always connect together all that well – they have a tendency to easily come apart. When you’re finished with the puzzle give it to your kids or grandkids – it’ll likely take them the whole summer to complete.

50 plants puzzle



Last modified: September 29, 2023

Carl Duguay - [email protected]

Carl is a Victoria-based furniture maker and the web editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.

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