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The Plant Hunters: True Stories of Their Daring Adventures to the Far Corners of the Earth
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The Plant Hunters: True Stories of Their Daring Adventures to the Far Corners of the Earth

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  89 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Driven by an all-consuming passion, the plant hunters traveled around the world, facingchallenges at every turn: tropical illnesses, extreme terrain, and dangerous animals. They battled piranhas, tigers, and vampire bats. Even the plantsthemselves could be lethal!But these intrepid eighteenth- and nineteenth-century explorers were determined to find and collect new and unu ...more
96 pages
Published April 10th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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A really interesting topic, but not the best execution. What people have gone through just to try to collect plants is fascinating enough. But the book felt disorganized and somewhat rambling, strange for something so short. And it was disappointing that the author felt the need to talk down to her readers, and that she entirely avoided acknowledging the imperialist mindset that informed a lot of the "discovery" of the 19th century.
Amy Jewell
1. Lanie's Real Life Adventure by Jane Kurtz (2010)

2. I chose this fiction book to complement my non-fiction book because I feel that the non-fiction book I chose is pretty historically based. The non-fiction text details plant exploration and identification from the 1800's and the adversity the plant hunters faced. This fiction twin text will lend a contemporary feel to the issues involving plant care including the harm of pesticides that were not an issue in the 1800's. Both books detail the t
Debbie Graham
Really wanted to love this book and it is a great topic. I thought that it missed an opportunity to at least mention the colonial/imperalist relationship. It also could have used a map or even two? Also some pictures seemed curiously placed (p 62-64, why no picture of kalaw trees/plant). Also the same section-no information as to what leprosy is and yet on page 17 describes a plant as something that "doesn't walk or speak" on one hand talking over the target audiences' head and at other poi ...more
This is one of those great books that I feel more intelligent for having read it. I had honestly never heard of plant hunters. Never given much thought to how so many of the plants in the United States arrived here. Now I know. My favorite line comes not from the main text but from the author note:

...I learned about all of them at a library near my house. That is what libraries do - they allow you to travel geographically and across time. They open up the whole world. They are the next best thin
I read this book with my 9-year old daughter. I think we both found the sections that discuss the amazing adventures of early plant hunters to be the best parts of the book. The first sentence sets the tone: "One got eaten by tigers in the Phillipines; one died of fever in Ecuador; one drowned in the Orinoco River; one fell to his death in Sierra Leone."

A reader will finish the book with admiration for the bravery of explorers including Alexander von Humboldt, Pierre Bonpland, Ynes Mexia, George
Becky B
When I was teaching Biology, there was always a huge groan when I announced we were starting our unit on plants. The first question was always, "Why are we studying boring old plants?" I wish I had had this book back then, because it makes the "boring" plants suddenly very interesting and highlights their importance to humans. Ms Silvey tells how men (and a few women) were willing to face horrible weather, dangerous terrain, savage wild animals, and unfriendly natives to find "boring" old plants ...more
Gail Gauthier
"What Silvey does here that's so terrific is that she doesn't just write bio per chapter after bio per chapter. I thought that might be the case, after reading Chapter One, which is about Alexander von Humboldt. Instead, she organizes her chapters around topics. Say, Chapter 2 Why Did They Do It? While explaining why these people faced danger and made tremendous efforts to bring huge numbers of plants over long distances, she uses real people to illustrate her points. Every chapter is like that. ...more
Edward Sullivan
Who knew plant hunting could be such adventurous, danger-filled, fascinating work? A beautifully designed and illustrated book.
This was engaging nonfiction and I can't wait to hear some kid reactions to it!
Aug 20, 2012 Phoebe rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Lisa
Shelves: nonfiction, juv
We take for granted the rich variety of plants we live with and the benefits they offer. We blithely buy bulbs and seeds and bedding plants and groan about the trials of gardening. But there is an amazing story to be told about the adventures and real trials of the original plant hunters, the men and women who made it their life's work to explore the wilderness of the unsettled earth to bring back seeds and shoots to the botanists and greenhouses of England and America. Serious danger, incredibl ...more
The Plant Hunters begins: "One got eaten by tigers in the Philippines: one died of fever in Ecuador: one drowned in the Orinoco River; one fell to his death in Sierra Leone. Another survived rheumatism, pleurisy and dysentery while sailing the Yangtze River in China, only to be murdered later. A few ended their days in lunatice asylums; many simply vanished into thin air." From that beginning you simply have to read why and how all those things could happen to people how love plants. Plants!? We ...more
Everyone uses plants. Drawing from the journals, field notes, and letters of plant hunters in the 18th and 19th century, were more of adventurers than scientists. They faced extreme dangers and made extraordinary contributions to humanity in truly altruistic manner. Love of outdoors and exploring new places helped the plant hunters to travel all around the world in search of exotic plants. Plant collection is a serious obsession and led to many collectors experience floods, landslides, serious i ...more
Melissa Mcavoy
Stalked by tigers, besieged by bandits, plant hunters endured massive privation, and masses of insects, to collect and send home specimens to advance science and make their countries wealthier and better. In an engaging and beautifully illustrated account, Silvey lures with tales of danger, opening reader’s eyes to the history and value of plant exploration. Lots of archival photographs and prints compliment histories of individual explorers and ‘super-star plants’ that changed our economies, hi ...more
I read this aloud to my 8 year old. While it held his attention, I had to whip out all of my acting skills. I felt like for all the zinging statements, it was a little redundant. I kind of want to go back through and take notes to figure out exactly how much actual content is in this book. That said, the idea of it is interesting, I learned a bit about something I'd never previously given thought, and the photos and drawings were exceptional.
I found this book did not have much information and I didn't like how it was organized. I would have preferred it to be organized by plant or by hunter. Plus my kids didn't like it. They thought it was boring to read. Even though there are some exciting stories in this specific type of history I don't think that the tales were well told here.
The Styling Librarian
This is one fascinating book, makes me want to read the Orchid Thief now that I understand the history, tools, and obsession a little more of the plant hunters. My favorite part of the book is the beginning paragraph: "One got eaten by tigers in the Philippines; one died of fever in Ecuador; one drowned in the Orinico River; one fell to his death in Sierra Leone. Another survived rheumatism, pleurisy, and dysentery while sailing the Yangtze River in China, only to be murdered later. A few ended ...more
This book was somewhat different than I expected, but was very good never-the-less. When I started I thought that all of the chapters would be like the first, a mini biography of the exploits of a plant hunter. This is not the case. Each chapter is woven around an idea - why they collected plants, getting plants (or the hunters themselves) home safely, finding valuable plants, and modern plant "geeks". Each chapter shows vignettes of different plant hunters and how their work demonstrates the id ...more
This middle school nonfiction book discusses plant hunting and plant hunters from the 18th century through today, focusing mainly on the 19th century. Well-written and interesting, with many period color plates and photographs, Silvey documents the often harrowing adventures of the plant hunters (eaten by tigers, drowning in rivers, fleeing guerilla monks) in pursuit of plants for multiple reasons. Even though this is written for middle schoolers, I learned a lot and was certainly not bored!
My daughter's summer reading selection. I thought it was dry but she likes it.
Some of the plant hunters were certifiably nuts if you ask me. I like plants and am grateful for the tea, food, and medicine they provide, but some of the things these plant hunters faced make me wonder what they were thinking.

I am happy that I had read Measuring the World before reading this since two of the characters in that story were highlighted in the very first chapter of this book. I think it made this reading richer.
Really interesting story about something I hadn't thought about before - the plant trade. With the earliest records of plant hunters originating in ancient Egypt, people have pursued this passion throughout history. It seems the heyday was in the 1800s, but as recent as 2009, over 100 new plant species were discovered in India. They are still out there. Good nonfiction for middle and high school.
A great book aimed at children, mixing two of my interests: natural history & exploration. I bught a copy for our public library. Illustrated with many beautiful paintings & sketches from 19th century (& older) rare books. And it meshed well with another book I recently read, 'Seven Flowers: And How They Shaped Our World' by Jennifer Potter.
It was very interesting once I committed myself to finishing it. Sort of a strange fascination ... why on EARTH would these people do these things? To help us.

But I have to be honest ... I don't know a kid that would actually finish it. Doesn't mean there isn't one out there ... but I don't know one.
The author tries to hard to make these guys seem like daring adventurers, with not enough botany. And she mentions Native Americans in an off-handed "uncivilized savages" way, (p. 25-16). I will not be adding this to my library's collection.
Luke Herbst
History of the men and women that discovered plants from around the world. Tells the story of close calls with death and how plants saved lives. Includes a good timeline and glossary. Pictures help with telling the story. Written by Anita Silvey.
Interesting content (despite a common belief to the contrary!)And excellent writing. Great mentor text for transitions, for paragraph development, and for lots of stylistic elements. Nice to see nonfiction written in such an engaging way.
The Orchid Thief for ten year olds! This is a beautifully-designed, well-researched, fascinating look at the history of plant hunting-- an adventurous pursuit little known to many children.
I don't have enough nonfiction on my shelves, and this is a perfect addition! Part adventure tale, part information about ecosystems and rare plants, this book is ALL awesome.
This book is filled with interesting stories! Anita Silvey gives us engaging non-fiction here. After reading, I ask myself this: How had I not heard of these adventurers before?
Not as exciting as the intro and back cover will lead you to believe, but I learned some things and was introduced to a world about which I knew nothing. And that is enough...
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