I enjoyed this way more than my friends enjoyed watching me read it. Made them nervous for some reason.
The book is a catalogue of plants, categorized in a fairly random order that makes for great reading. Each plant or family of plants has descriptions and short stories about how people found out they were poisonous and/or what they did once they found out.
Not all the plants are deadly. At the small tabs at the top of the page one finds categorizations of dangerous, illegal, invasive, and intoxicating, among others.
My personal favorite was probably Jimson Weed, which grows around here. Apparently when the colonists first arrived and didn’t have good enough sense to ask the indigenous people what was good to eat, they ate Jimson Weed leaves, plus roots pounded into flour. This gives you one very interesting high before it either kills you or renders you incoherent for a few days.
So once they figured out which leaves they should not eat, well, knowledge like that should not go to waste when the next invaders show up… yep. Colonists fed Jimson Stew to the British soldiers housed in their homes. Poor sods went crazy more than went lights out, though. Perhaps the colonists were merciful, or maybe they couldn’t find enough to finish them off. But the soldiers were recalled for medical reasons.
Many other stories are included. This is not a narrative book, but a series of short stories wrapped in information. Also, I had no idea how many wicked weeds grow in desert climates. It’s true that everything out there is trying to kill you.
Highly recommended – and if you want to scare people, leave it on your kitchen table when you have friends over.