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The Plant Messiah: Adventures in Search of the World's Rarest Species

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  825 ratings  ·  143 reviews
Carlos Magdalena is not your average horticulturist. He's a man on a mission to save the world's most endangered plants. First captivated by the flora of his native Spain, he has travelled to the remotest parts of the globe in search of exotic species. Renowned for his pioneering work, he has committed his life to protecting plants from man-made ecological destruction and ...more
Hardcover, 262 pages
Published April 10th 2018 by Doubleday Books
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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Rebecca
Carlos Magdalena is passionate about the protection of plant species – 1 in 5 plants is currently in danger of extinction. He grew up the son of a florist in northern Spain, where Franco had logged ancient forests and eliminated most “non-profitable” wildlife, and his childhood interest in natural history grew into a fervor for conservation. After moving to England at age 28, he underwent rigorous training at England’s Kew Gardens to earn a horticultural diploma while working as a plant propagat ...more
Rana
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Look, this isn't a literary masterpiece. This guy isn't a writer, just a cool guy with a cool job doing cool shit. His passion for plants is inspirational, even if I can't get shit to grow in my own garden.

(But also, I really love Kew and any horticultural garden. I highly suggest visiting your local one.)
...more
Kim
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a better read than most of the fiction I've read lately. The author's anecdotal stories are quite thrilling at times. The reader finds themselves wondering "will it propagate??" As the author yet again attempts to revive a plant thought to be already or near extinct.

I found myself reading some of these stories out loud to people and everyone was enchanted by them.

While reading this I took the time to look up most of the plants mentioned and did quite a bit of research into each.
...more
Rama
Feb 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biology, ecology
Studying the Silent Extinction of Rare Plants

In ecology, extinction refers to termination of an organism or of a group of organisms. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of the species, and the ability to breed and recover may have been lost before this point. This term is generally used with animal extinction, but there are very few ecologists who study plant extinction. In this book, environmental biologist Carlos Magdalena describes his studi
...more
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
The author of this book is a botanist at Kew Gardens who specializes in tropical plants. He details his experiences in various tropical regions to explore and attempt to save indigenous plant life of these areas. The writing is not always great, but his passion for his subject shines through. His knowledge, commitment to preserving biodiversity, and uncanny intuition in working with plant life is admirable and inspiring.
Misti
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*I received a copy in exchange for my review via Net Galley*

Oh my goodness, this book! I blitzed through it over the long holiday weekend here and it was such a well-paced and exciting read. So far it is going down as the best non-fiction I've read this year. I could relate to so many of the topics, relating to the epiphytes of Florida. My husband stumbled across an orchid about 10 years ago that hadn't been seen in about 30 years. There's a very active plant community looking for extirpated pla
...more
Randal White
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
The author is a botanist at the Pew Gardens in London.  This is his life story of his efforts to save plants that are on the verge of extinction.  He has traveled the world to find, collect, and propagate these plants.  The book reads like a fiction novel, it's exciting to hear about his adventures. After finishing reading the book, I came away with a sense of disappointment at how fast the earth is changing, and a thankfulness that there are people like the author working hard to preserve our ...more
Tanja Berg
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book tells of endangered plants with an inexhaustible exuberance that is absolutely catching. This self taught naturalist got accepted to study horticulture at the honorable institute of Kew and has put his expertise to good use since by saving several endangered species. Definitely recommended!
Elizabeth
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book for conservationists the world over! As a person who has worked in conservation and education I can say this is a really important book to read.
We often hear of helping the tigers or saving the polar bears.
But who is going to save the worlds loneliest palm tree?
Who will be there to mourn the last Bory's Coral Tree?
Mountain flowers that rely on geckoes as its sole pollinators and trees claimed by all to be living dead.

This is a collection of stories about the people who wil
...more
Shaun
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received a free copy of this book through a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway.

A journey with Carlos Magdalena across the world as he attempts to save endangered plants from extinction. You'll be taken from South America to Africa to Australia to small, remote islands in the Pacific. Some tales are amazing, some funny, some heartbreaking.

Magdalena is obviously quite passionate about plants (water lilies in particular) and it comes through in his writing. He's also quite passionate about the envir
...more
J.D. DeHart
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is not only a vessel for an important message, it is also well-written and easy on a reader's eyes.

This is a rare instance where we have an entertaining book that also happens to reach out and educate. A lovely juxtaposition, and a nicely accomplished autobiography.
...more
Darrin
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I started this book with a bit of trepidation. The title gave me pause because I thought the book would be all about the self-aggrandizement of the author but it turned out not to be that way at all.

It is written in an open, easy-to-read style that kept my interest the whole time and made me want to go to the internet to look at the areas of the countries he visited and look at the flowers the author was describing.

I have always thought of Kew Botanical Gardens as simply a massive garden for the
...more
Randal White
The author is a botanist at the Pew Gardens in London. This is his life story of his efforts to save plants that are on the verge of extinction. He has traveled the world to find, collect, and propagate these plants. The book reads like a fiction novel, it's exciting to hear about his adventures. After finishing reading the book, I came away with a sense of disappointment at how fast the earth is changing, and a thankfulness that there are people like the author working hard to preserve our heri ...more
Caleb Melchior
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely magnificent. Sincere and well written. Carlos' writing on our human responsibility to the world is one of the loveliest pieces on plant conservation that I've read. ...more
Virginia Arthur
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By the time I was ten, I was announcing to my sub-urbanized family that I was going to be a botanist when I grew up leaving them baffled as hell; it's not like we grew plants, ran a farm, lived in the country though we kind of...?

Ours was the first street of what would become a giant new mini-city. Every day was spent watching some part of the original farm get bulldozed, destroyed; every day was a topographic adventure meaning where it was flat on Tuesday, a giant new 'mountain' appeared 'out o
...more
Nostalgia Reader
3.5 stars.

Any subtitle that mentions searching for rare species immediately draws me in, so I automatically clicked the request button when I saw this on NetGalley.

I was expecting this to be more of a pure non-fiction book about various efforts to save various rare plant species, but instead it was a memoir about Magdalena's own travels and efforts to save some specific species. I enjoyed the memoir aspect of it, as Magdalena has an easy to read style and some amusing stories, but I also was a t
...more
Samantha Gronberg
I absolutely LOVED this book! It was such an informative and fun nonfiction book. I want to read again and again. I feel like I learned so much and had a great time doing it.
Jeanette Blain
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley-arc
More like 4.5 stars. I thoroughly enjoyed this adventurous jaunt through Magdalena's wild, somewhat obsessive, species-saving world. I'm a hobby gardener, so his enthusiasm hits home. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is into botanizing (you know who you are) or anyone who cares about plants and the natural world. Keep Google handy as he's a name dropper (Nymphaea thermarum, anyone?). ;)

Thanks to NetGalley and Doubleday Books for the ARC. All views are my own.
...more
Emma Bec
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. From a conservation/botany view it was incredibly interesting. I also loved the travel stories and descriptions of various plants and environments. And the humour and passion of the author really comes through. It was just a lot of fun to read.
Yep it has a cheesy title and a ghost writer, but don't let this put you off. It was one of the most enjoyable books I've read in ages. I was really sad to come to the end of it. I hope there's a sequel!
...more
Sid Nuncius
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an important book which makes vital points about plant conservation. It is in may ways interesting and informative, but I did have my reservations about the way in which Carlos Magdalena presents his work and his message.

Magdalena has been a botanical horticulturalist at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew for many years. This means that he has received the best training and experience available in his field, and it is evident that he really knows what he is talking about. He is genuinely d
...more
Ann T
Jun 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Thank you Doubleday and Netgalley for a complimentary ARC of this book in return for my honest review.

This was an interesting memoir based around the authors quest to save plant species in an effort to do his bit to make the world a more liveable, greener place. This was a refreshing change from memoirs I had previously read and I found it a very enjoyable read.
Coral
Somewhat like an Indiana Jones of the botany world, Magdalena obviously has tremendous passion for his work, for discovering species and ensuring their preservation, and for sharing his love of plants with others.

What bothers me, though, is the fact that there is a ghost writer that is not mentioned anywhere other than a thank you in the acknowledgements at the very end of the book. That just doesn't sit right with me - it feels like a deliberate attempt to pull the wool over people's eyes. I p
...more
Anna
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5
An inspiring and fascinating look at plants and the importance of saving them.
Gail Kennon
Oct 13, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
clumsy writing and strange facts like Asturias being 1500 miles above sea level. author brags about being too bored for school and his disjointed and simplistic writing testifies to his lack of the skills he might have learned there if he didn't have the ego of a messiah. ...more
Yvett
Nov 24, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice little adventure across ecosystems and far away lands (at least from my location). I was never too fond of the individualistic title "plant messiah" - especially since I am already critical about the highly eurocentric (re:kew gardens history)/colonialist/imperialist relationship that still seems to exist with the finding/searching/and collecting of plant species. But, overall, this was humbly written and focused on individual stories of plants that need saving and protecting. ...more
Tonstant Weader
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Carlos Magdalena is a botanist working at Kew Gardens whose success in propagating and saving near-extinct plants earned him the sobriquet The Plant Messiah. It is a fitting nickname as he has a messianic determination to capture the seeds and cuttings to safeguard the future of plants on the edge of extinction–even going so far as to wade into waters with crocodiles, piranhas, and snakes.

The Plant Messiah is a fun and informative blend of action, adventure, and information. Much of his adventur
...more
Elizabeth
*I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway*

Who knew horticulture could be so riveting? The author's enthusiasm, while at times bombastic, is infectious. He writes in a manner that is scientific, but still accessible. The book is part adventure-memoir and part botany-guidebook, all the while explaining why even the smallest plant is a necessary part of its ecosystem.
...more
Fox
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received this book for free through the GoodReads first-reads program in exchange for an honest review.

The Plant Messiah is part biography, part short stories, and all call to the world to be more plant-conscious. Carlos Magdalena makes an impassioned plea through the pages of the book for us all to do our part to increase the biodiversity of the world itself, cultivate the endangered plants and trees of our locales in our own gardens, and in general celebrate the natural biodiversity around
...more
Laura
May 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book very slowly, one chapter at the time, in the time it took me to read this book I have also read several fiction books but those books have 3 or 4 stars and this has 5. I very rarely give 5 stars.
Carlos Magdalena works at Kew Gardens (the way he got the job shows that if immigrations laws were to change, Britain would lose out great talents like him). He is an expert conservationist and an expert in tropical plants and waterlilies.
Most of the book is about his attempts at savin
...more
Jason Paulios
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Autobiographical stories of his work as Tropical Senior Botanical Horticulturist for the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, England. Carlos describes coming from a family that encouraged exploration, as well as respect and caretaking for the plants and animals of Asturias in Northern Spain. When wanderlust overtook him at 28, he travelled to London where a trip to the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew changed his world. Their efforts to save highly endangered plants mirrored his passion for caring for the ...more
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CARLOS MAGDALENA is the Tropical Senior Botanical Horticulturist at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and an international lecturer. He is renowned for his unique skills as a plant propagator who is saving the world's rarest plants. ...more

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