Botany, Domestication, and the Plant's Point of View

  • Botanicus is the Missouri Botanical Garden Library's freely accessible portal to historic botanical literature, featuring searchable, digital copies of botanical illustrations and texts.

  • The Botany of Desire, by Michael Pollan (New York: Random House, 2001).

  • Darwin's Ghost: The Origin of Species Updated, by Steve Jones (New York: Random House, 1991).

  • Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, by Jared Diamond (New York: W. W. Norton, 1997).

  • The National Agricultural Library's Special Collections include digitized images from rare books, nursery and seed trade catalogs, photographs, and posters.

  • Plant Biographies is an encyclopedia of plants from Xerxes to the present day. It covers plants' interrelationship with man and the planet and their usage, history, influence and unusual properties.

  • Plants, Man, and Life, by Edgar Anderson (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1952), is a classic on the origins of agriculture.


  • Apples, by Roger Yepsen (New York: W. W. Norton, 1994), contains illustrations of 90 North American apple varieties, each accompanied by a short history and flavor profile.

  • Apples: The Story of the Fruit of Temptation, by Frank Browning (New York: North Point Press, 1998) is a tome on apple orchards, apple farming, apples in art and history, and the origin of apples in Central Asia.

  • "Johnny Appleseed. A Pioneer Hero". This famous article about frontier nurseryman John Chapman was published in Harper's Magazine in November 1871.

  • Johnny Appleseed: Man and Myth, by Robert Price (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1954), is a biography of John Chapman, a.k.a. Johnny Appleseed.

  • The USDA Pomological Watercolor Collection is a series of luminous paintings of apples and other fruits. Produced by U.S.D.A. researchers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, these very detailed paintings document regional fruit varieties before the widespread adaptation of scientific photography.

  • "Wild Apples: The History of the Apple Tree," Henry David Thoreau's famous essay on wild apples, is from The Writings of Henry David Thoreau (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1803).


  • Flower Confidential, by Amy Stewart (Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2007), covers the botany, history, and commerce of flowers.

  • Levni and the Surname: The Story of an Eighteenth-Century Ottoman Festival, by Esin Atil (Istanbul, Turkey: Kocbank, 1999), is about the Surname-I Vehbi, the illustrated chronicle of an opulent festival for Sultan Ahmed III during the height of the Tulip Era.

  • Situated in a convent in the Dutch city of Delft, The Museum Het Prinsenhof offers a glimpse into 17th-century Dutch life during the time of tulipomania. The collection includes paintings, a portrait of Semper Augustus tulips by Brandemandus, and chairs covered in tulip-motif tapestry.

  • The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature, by Matt Ridley (New York: Penguin Books, 1993), is a detailed volume on beauty and the evolution of sexual reproduction.

  • Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty, by Nancy Etcoff (New York: Doubleday, 1999).

  • The Tulip: The Story of a Flower That Has Made Men Mad, by Anna Pavord (London: Bloomsbury, 1999), is a definitive book on tulips and the Dutch tulipomania.

  • Tulipomania: The Story of the World's Most Coveted Flower and the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused, by Mike Dash (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1999).

  • Wageningen Tulip Portal is the online home of Wageningen University Library's collection of art and historical documents related to tulipomania. The site is also a gateway to the latest scientific research on tulips from Wageningen University Research Center.


  • Aboca Museum's Bibliotheca Antiqua is a rich collection of rare and historic herbal and botanical books, including De Historia stirpium by Leonhart Fuchs, the 16th-century German scientist who is considered to be one of the founders of the science of botany. This book contains an early botanical illustration of cannabis.

  • A Brief History of Drugs, by Antonio Escohotado (Rochester, VT: Park Street Press, 1996) tells the story of humans' historical relationships with mind-altering substances.

  • Cannabis: A History, by Martin Booth (New York: Picador, 2003).

  • The International Cannabinoid Research Society is a scientific association for researchers dedicated to the study of cannabinoids.

  • The Medicinal Uses of Cannabis and Cannabinoids, edited by Geoffrey Guy, Brian Whittle and Philip Robson (London: Pharmaceutical Press, 2004).

  • On Drugs, by David Lenson (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995).

  • Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants, by Wolfgang Schivelbusch (New York: Vintage Books, 1992).

  • Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence, by Mitch Earleywine (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).


  • The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) is the largest biotechnology advocacy organization in the world. BIO promotes agricultural, industrial, and environmental biotechnologies on behalf of its members, which include startups, universities, and multinational corporations.

  • Genes, Crops, and the Environment, by John Holden et al. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1993).

  • The Gift of Good Land, by Wendell Berry (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1981).

  • The Guaman Poma websiteoffers a digital, translated facsimile of El Primer Nueva Corónica y Buen Gobierno, an illustrated manuscript created in 1615 by indigenous Peruvian Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala. This is the only surviving illustrated text depicting pre-conquest Incan life. Several illustrations feature agricultural scenes and potato cultivation. The site was created by the Royal Library in Copenhagen.

  • The History and Social Influence of the Potato, by Redcliffe Salaman (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1949), is a study of every aspect of the potato.
    A study of every aspect of the potato.

  • Irish Rural Interiors in Art, by Claudia Kinmonth (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006), reproduces art depicting Irish home life in the 18th through early 20th centuries. Some paintings date from the time of the great famine, and many highlight the role potatoes played in the Irish diet.

  • The Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology was created to bring together differing viewpoints to examine agricultural biotechnology and related policy. Before shutting down in 2007, the initiative published reports, held workshops, and took polls, all of which are publicly accessible in its online archive.

  • "Playing God in the Garden"is Michael Pollan's original article on the new leaf potato (The New York Times Magazine, October 25, 1998).

  • The Potato: How the Humble Spud Rescued the Western World, by Larry Zuckerman (New York: North Point Press, 1998), describes how the potato fed growing populations and fueled development in Western Europe and the United States.

  • Shattering: Food, Politics, and the Loss of Genetic Diversity, by Cary Fowler and Pat Mooney (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1996).

  • Tomorrow's Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food, by Pamela Ronald and Raoul Adamchak (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008). In this book, Ronald, a UC Davis geneticist, and Adamchak, an organic farmer, argue that genetic engineering and organic farming can be used together. The book includes a very readable overview of how genetic engineering works.

  • The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is a science advocacy group focused on environmental issues. The UCS has produced materials about genetic engineering, food, and agriculture.

  • The U.S. Regulatory Agencies Unified Biotechnology website provides an overview of how biotechnology is regulated and which agencies are involved. The site features a database that enables users to search all completed regulatory reviews for genetically engineered crops intended for human or animal consumption.