About * All * Landform * Compass * Related Topics

Return to list Review by Clear Englebert
Deni Bown - Aroids: Plants of the Arum Family

So why read a book just about aroids? You may never even have heard the word "aroid." Well, this extensive, fascinating plant family contains some of our most loved houseplants and wild temperate zone plants. (Remember what we call houseplants are just everyday wild plants in the tropics.) These include the outrageous monstera and the breathtakingly graceful calla lily. Also:
· All those whimsical antheriums
· The familiar jack-in-the-pulpit of North America
· All the philodendrons (and there are a lot!)
· The magnificent dieffenbachia (I regularly recommend this plant for wealth corners.)
· The Polynesian taro
· And more and more and more -- there are over 2,500 species. Almost every home or office has an aroid.

This book is not intended to be a typical houseplant book -- far from it. It was first published in 1988 as the first illustrated general overview of this vast plant family. Here you'll discover how these fascinating plants grow in the wild. That, dear reader, is one of the most valuable things a plant grower can know. To have a cultivated plant grow successfully in your home or garden, it needs conditions that replicate those in which it flourishes in the wild. Also in this book is the tragic story of habitat destruction, and we come to recognize that collection and cultivation is the only thing that has saved some of these species from extinction -- sigh!

This book is extremely well written. It reads like a page-turner novel. You just can't wait to find out what the next wierdo plant is gonna be. And folks, there are some real oddities here:

· Plants that generate their own warmth.
· The giant krubi in Sumatra -- the world's largest flower. Imagine a flower that is 18 feet by 15 feet! And it stinks to high heaven -- described as "floral tear gas" -- yow!
· The psychoactive acorus calamus -- our fragrant native sweet flag.

There are lots of drawings and color photos. The photographs are especially welcome because it would be hard to believe just how strange some of these plants are without photos. It's a fascinating book, and you'll be a better gardener for having read it.

Timber Press, Portland, OR, (800) 327-5680, www.timberpress.com, 1988 reprinted 2000, 0-88192-092-4, 256 pages, drawings and color photos, hardback, $34.95.

Leave Comment