Thank you to Kelly at Love Books Tours and The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh for a gorgeous copy of this book. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.
An informative and entertaining look at why plants have been used in magic and what that tells us about people and plants in a post-magic world.
With chapters on subjects as diverse as Witchcraft, Curses and Blessings, Divination, the Plants of Faery, Hallucinogens, Divine Plants in the Christian and Pagan traditions and a Plant Bestiary, Greg Kenicer’s book is an erudite and informative look at how and why various plants have had a role in Europe’s supernatural and magical traditions.
Individual entries look at particular plants combining botanical analysis with historical examples and anecdote to explain exactly why each plant came to be used in this way. Considerations of dangers and actual efficacy cast light on how modern science is now re-examining the uses of many of the plants and how the evolution of the plants themselves has been influenced by our use of them.
Whether Foxglove or Mandrake, Hawthorn or Aspen, Rowan or Oak, St. John’s Wort or Bird Cherry, Plant Magic shines a bright and fascinating new light on dozens of familiar plants.
As a child we often discover the fictional magic of plants in books such as the Magic Faraway Tree and the folklore stories about Robin Hood etc. Plants have been used for centuries to make medicine and food, but also to make enemies ill or to kill them.
This book is a reference book to explain how the wide number of plants have been used for food, medicine and pain, from trees, to fungi, from herbs to ferns.
I live in Oakhurst, named after the Oak trees growing in the area. I was fascinated by the amount of information about how Oak trees were the symbol of Zeus, and linked to Merlin the wizard. I wasn’t aware that acorns were used to make love potions.
There is a section at the back of the book about Mystery Plants, such Laughter Leaf and Was Wak trees. These are plants that have featured in stories such as the Arabian Nights and this book explains how the stories may have evolved.
A fascinating book, looking at folklore, legend, botany and science. I’ve enjoyed dipping in and out of the pages, learning more about the plants in our garden and those seen on our daily dog walks.
Dr. Greg J Kenicer is the author of Plant Magic. He is also a botanist and a lecturer at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. He is an expert in the evolution and diversity of peas and beans but the fantastical relationship between plants and people is where his heart really lies.