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Bizarre Botanicals: How to Grow String-of-Hearts, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Panda Ginger, and Other Weird and Wonderful Plants

By Larry Mellichamp and Paula Gross

Foreword by Tony Avent

Both the young gardener and the seasoned scientist will be amazed by these stories of sex, death, and other botanical wizardry.

Tony Avent, author of So You Want to Start a Nursery

Gardeners love tulips, lilies, and pansies — the common, but beautiful, plants found in the average garden. But there are realms in the plant world far beyond these familiar favorites. In Bizarre Botanicals, plant experts Larry Mellichamp and Paula Gross take readers on a curious botanical journey of weirdly wonderful plants that can be grown at home.

Bizarre Botanicals features over 75 astonishing plants that have extraordinary abilities — from pyrotechnic spores that can burst into flame when ignited to flowers that lure insects to their deaths. Each plant profile includes essential care and cultivation information. A difficulty scale alerts gardeners to how easy (or difficult) it is to grow the plant at home.

There's no reason to forsake lilies and petunias. But after reading Bizarre Botanicals, gardeners will want to take a walk on the weird side and try a few of these peculiar plants for themselves.

Media reviews

"An informative and visually arresting book devoted to a dizzying array of plants not frequently found in typical American gardens. Perfect for gardeners of all levels who wish to cultivate out-of-the-ordinary plants and for armchair gardeners interested in thumbing through photographs of unusual botanicals."

Library Journal

"A must for any gardener with access to a hothouse and a desire to grow something out of the ordinary. From strange orchids to voodoo lilies, beehive-shaped ginger and honey locust, each plant includes difficulty ratings, hardiness zones, growing needs, and even height and spread."

—James A. Cox, Midwest Book Review

"A fun, easy read."

—Sonia Day, Toronto Star

"From carnivorous plants to orchids and succulents, this book is a beauty, even if you only marvel at the photos."

—Rhonda Stansberry, Omaha World-Herald

"A plant zoo of animal look-alikes."

San Antonio Express-News

"Complete with seductive photographs and a lighthearted but substantive text."

—Dominique Browning, New York Times

"Bright, full-page photos add to the fascination as readers discover nature's most mysterious plants."

—Lori K. Tate, Our State

"Beautifully illustrated."

SciTech Book News

"This is one of the most entertaining plant books you're likely to find anywhere."

—Gerhard Bock, Bamboo and More (blog)

"A fun and fascinating encyclopedia of weird plants that boast such qualities as freaky displays of sex death and botanical wizardry."

Norfolk Virginian-Pilot

"For the gardener who wants to stretch beyond the everyday into the realm of ... wicked fun."

—Kathy Huber, Houston Chronicle

"If you seek entertainment while your garden sleeps, give Bizarre Botanicals a whirl."

—Virginia Smith, Philadelphia Inquirer

About the authors

Larry Mellichamp

Larry Mellichamp is a professor of botany at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and director of the university's botanical gardens. He has written many technical and popular articles on plants and gardening, appears regularly in the local media, and has co-authored four books, including Bizarre Botanicals.

Read more about Larry Mellichamp

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Paula Gross

Paula Gross is the assistant director of the University of North Carolina Charlotte Botanical Gardens. She has a masters in horticulture from the University of Georgia, and teaches courses on horticulture and plant identification. In addition, she writes a periodic column on horticultural issues and provides information on gardening questions.

Read more about Paula Gross

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