Seven Flowers: And How They Shaped Our World

Of interest to:
Anyone who enjoys flowers, gardening, or looking at how individual items (like flowers) affect the world in different ways at different times.

What it’s about:
This microhistory takes a look at seven flowers that have a decided impact on our world. Some are medicine. Some have been powerful commercial influences. Some are part of important religious symbology. All of them are gorgeous. (And really, all of them have been more than one thing, over time.)

The seven flowers are the lotus, lily, sunflower, opium poppy, rose, tulip, and orchid. Each chapter puts the flower into context, shares a number of pieces of information about how it grows or was developed, where it thrives, how it moved into other areas of the world. Each chapter also has a variety of stories about times that flower was particularly relevant to history, art, literature, or other areas of interest.

I found the details to be thorough – there’s certainly plenty of information provided to allow you to track down more about particular stories or flowers and there’s both a bibliography and index. There are also illustrations, though they don’t feature heavily in the text.

My biggest complaint with this book is that I wanted more about every flower (the author also has a book purely about roses, if, like me, those are a flower you’re particularly interested in.) But that’s one of the risks of microhistories.


Genre: Microhistory
Subjects: Earth, Natural world, Plants
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