Oxford £9.99 (332pp) (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 0870 079 8897
Flower Hunters, By Mary Gribbin & John Gribbin
Friday 01 May 2009
The assiduous Gribbins have uncovered much splendid detail in this bouquet of 11 floral explorers. Carl Linnaeus was an obsessive organiser who invented plant classification, though this precision did not prevent him from attempting to fiddle his travelling expenses. .
Joseph Banks, who sailed with Cook and took "advantage of the relaxed attitude of the Tahitians to sexual activity", introduced 7,000 species to Britain.
By bringing back seeds of the quinine-producing cinchona tree from South America, Richard Spruce preserved servants of the Empire from malaria and enhanced the pleasure of gin drinkers
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