In The Cabaret of Plants, Mabey explores the plant species which have challenged our imaginations, awoken our wonder, and upturned our ideas about history, science, beauty and belief. Picked from every walk of life, they encompass crops, weeds, medicines, religious gathering-places and a water lily named after a queen. Beginning with pagan cults and creation myths, the cultural significance of plants has burst upwards, sprouting into forms as diverse as the panacea (the cure-all plant ginseng, a single root of which can cost up to $10,000), Newton's apple, the African 'vegetable elephant' or boabab - and the mystical, night-flowering Amazonian cactus, the moonflower. Ranging widely across science, art and cultural history, poetry and personal experience, Mabey puts plants centre stage, and reveals a true botanical cabaret, a world of tricksters, shape-shifters and inspired problem-solvers, as well as an enthralled audience of romantics, eccentric amateur scientists and transgressive artists. The Cabaret of Plants celebrates the idea that plants are t simply 'the furniture of the planet', but vital, inventive, individual beings worthy of respect - and that to understand this may be the best way of preserving life together on Earth.
Richard Mabey is 'the nation's favourite nature writer' (Sunday Telegraph) and 'a national treasure' (Sunday Times), who, 'as a celebrant of the botanical ... has few peers' (Nature Microbiology). He is the author of thirty books, including the bestselling plant bible Flora Britannica, and Nature Cure, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread, Ondaatje and Ackerley Awards. A regular on radio and in the national press, he was elected a Fellow in the Royal Society of Literature in 2012.