Wicked Plants, by Amy Stewart, is an informative, sexy book with a wicked sense of humor. Tales of espionage, murder, and the unexpected dangers of house plants are found inside this mysterious book. In fact, it's pretty amazing just how many nefarious plants are within close range. "I confess that I am enchanted by the plant kingdom's criminal element," says Stewart, "I love a good villain... There is something beguiling about sharing their dark little secrets. And these secrets don't just lurk in a remote jungle. They're in our own backyards."
Indeed, Stewart keeps her own poison garden! She understands the macabre allure of plants like Hemlock, and Opium, and reveals the dark side of common plants like Castor Bean and Philodendron. Did you know that lilies are lethal to cats? That the cashew tree contains oils which induce a poison ivy-like reaction?
Copper plate etchings grace the aged-looking pages giving it an eerily elegant look. I actually can't believe this book isn't much more expensive based on its artful presentation alone. You just don't see books like this at all--maybe antiques, but nothing current.
I highly recommend Wicked Plants for yourself and for gifts. Christmas is coming and I think this would be awesome not just for the garden geeks on your list, but history lovers and anyone who appreciates good writing, good humor, and a little danger.