The most recommended botany books

Who picked these books? Meet our 69 experts.

69 authors created a book list connected to botany, and here are their favorite botany books.
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Book cover of The Signature of All Things

Robert J. Lloyd Author Of The Bloodless Boy

From my list on science-based historical fiction novels.

Who am I?

I write as Robert J. Lloyd, but my friends call me Rob. Having studied Fine Art at a BA degree level (starting as a landscape painter but becoming a sculpture/photography/installation/performance generalist), I then moved to writing. During my MA degree in The History of Ideas, I happened to read Robert Hooke’s diary, detailing the life and experiments of this extraordinary and fascinating man. My MA thesis and my Hooke & Hunt series of historical thrillers are all about him. I’m fascinated by early science, which was the initial ‘pull’ into writing these stories, but the political background of the times (The Popish Plot and the Exclusion Crisis, for example) is just as enticing. 

Robert's book list on science-based historical fiction novels

Robert J. Lloyd Why did Robert love this book?

I’d never have guessed I’d be so beguiled by a book about moss. Or, more precisely, about Alma Whittaker, a bryologist observing moss.

I enjoyed this book's ‘differentness’. It’s an episodic story, unusually structured, with various life-like trailings-off of plotlines, characters, and marriage, but no less gripping for that.

Researching natural sciences in the nineteenth century is skilfully described, but it’s Alma who lingers in the mind. Its sentences, I thought, are beautiful too.

By Elizabeth Gilbert,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Signature of All Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

_______________ SHORTLISTED FOR THE WELLCOME BOOK PRIZE LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILEYS WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION _______________ 'Quite simply one of the best novels I have read in years' - Elizabeth Day, Observer 'Charming ... extensively researched, compellingly readable' - Jane Shilling, Daily Telegraph 'Sumptuous ... Gilbert's prose is by turns flinty, funny, and incandescent' - New Yorker _______________ A captivating story of botany, exploration and desire, by the multimillion copy bestselling author of Eat Pray Love Everything about life intrigues Alma Whittaker. Her passion for botany leads her far from home, from London to Peru to Tahiti, in pursuit of…


Book cover of The London Rose

Susan Page Davis Author Of True Blue Christmas

From Susan's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author 100+ books author Mystery fan & writer History nut Editing award Family comes first

Susan's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Susan Page Davis Why did Susan love this book?

This Regency romance feels much like a Georgette Heyer book, and I used to devour Heyer’s stories.

Widow Rose Audeley and her grown son are enjoying their quiet country home when a desperate young woman knocks on the door and begs Rose for sanctuary. The story is light and fun, and I loved it. I first read it on Vella, but it’s now available as a Kindle e-book, a paperback, and an audiobook. If you like Regency romance, I recommend Rosanne E. Lortz!

By Rosanne E. Lortz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The London Rose as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A handsome earl. A trip to London. But is this Derbyshire widow ready to give up her independence for a second chance at romance?

An homage to the inimitable Georgette Heyer, this clean and wholesome Regency romance follows the adventures and exploits of a sensible widow, a managing earl, an absent-minded botanist, a high-strung heiress, a coldhearted guardian, and a villainous kidnapper.


Book cover of Flora Poetica: The Chatto Book of Botanical Verse

Jane Clarke Author Of A Change in the Air

From my list on making you fall in love with nature poetry.

Who am I?

Ever since my childhood on a farm poetry has helped me pay attention to the world around me. Like a naturalist’s field guide, nature poems name, depict, and explore what might otherwise pass unnoticed. Now in the midst of environmental crisis I believe poets have a role alongside ecologists, farmers, and foresters to protect and restore our threatened habitats and species. Writing nature poetry helps me face and express loss while celebrating what still survives. I value poetry that connects us to what we love and gives us courage to imagine different ways of living.

Jane's book list on making you fall in love with nature poetry

Jane Clarke Why did Jane love this book?

What’s distinctive about this gorgeous poetry anthology is not only that each poem has a specific tree or flower as its subject but that they are grouped according to plant family.

The editor Sarah Maguire was a gardener as well as a poet and translator. In what was clearly a labour of love she brought together poems from all over the world, spanning eight centuries of writing. Her fascinating introduction considers many aspects of nature poetry, including gender and colonialism.

As a gardener and poet I have loved finding poems by Medbh McGuckian, Emily Dickinson and D.H. Lawrence grouped together in the Gentian family or poems by Louise Glück, Seamus Heaney, Lorna Goodison, Robert Herrick, Marianne Moore, and Richard Wilbur thriving next to each other in the Mint family. 

By Sarah Maguire (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Flora Poetica as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This new anthology is as entrancing as the lost gardens of Heligan - I cannot imagine an anthology anyone would enjoy more.' Ruth Padel, The IndependentThis beautifully compiled and designed anthology brings together over 250 poems about flowers, plants and trees from eight centuries of writing in English. Fourteenth-century lyrics sit next to poems of the twenty-first century; celebrations of plants native to the English soil share the volume with more exotic plant poetry from further afield, creating a cornucopia of intriguing juxtapositions. There are thirty poems about roses, by poets as diverse as Shakespeare, Dorothy Parker and the South…


Book cover of A Botanist's Guide to Parties and Poisons

L.M. Jorden Author Of Belladonna

From my list on mysteries with poison plants to please a gardener.

Who am I?

As the author of the Dr. Josephine Plantae Paradoxes, a historical mystery series based on my grandmother, an early trailblazing woman doctor, I stay true to the facts. I remember entering her apothecary filled with strange bottles of little homeopathic white pills, giant stills, and finding poisonous plants in her atrium. In my novels, Dr. Josephine Reva fights for woman’s equality and practices a mix of botanical and modern medicine, and moonlights as a sleuth to solve paradoxical ‘poison cure’ crimes. An award-winning journalist, author, and former professor with an MS from Columbia University, I studied botany. I currently live between France and New England with my family, furry friends, and lots of plants.

L.M.'s book list on mysteries with poison plants to please a gardener

L.M. Jorden Why did L.M. love this book?

In the cozy mystery by Kate Khavari, Saffron is the main character who follows in her father’s footsteps as a botanist.

She’s in search of a Chilean species commonly known as Devil’s Trumpet, which has a beautiful trumpet-shaped flower that hides its poisonous use. 

This story is a ‘will-they-or-won’t they’ romance between Saffron and Alexander, a biology researcher, but what’s romance without a little plant poison in the mix?

By Kate Khavari,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Botanist's Guide to Parties and Poisons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Lost Apothecary meets Dead Dead Girls in this fast-paced, STEMinist adventure.

Debut author Kate Khavari deftly entwines a pulse-pounding mystery with the struggles of a woman in a male-dominated field in 1923 London.

Newly minted research assistant Saffron Everleigh is determined to blaze a new trail at the University College London, but with her colleagues’ beliefs about women’s academic inabilities and not so subtle hints that her deceased father’s reputation paved her way into the botany department, she feels stymied at every turn.
 
When she attends a dinner party for the school, she expects to engage in conversations about…


Book cover of Murder Most Florid: Inside the Mind of a Forensic Botanist

Tim Sullivan Author Of The Monk

From my list on forensic investigation in murder cases.

Who am I?

I’ve always been fascinated with crime and crime fiction. From my early obsession with the novels of Raymond Chandler to my embarrassingly late discovery of Agatha Christie. I directed epsiodes of Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett for Masterpiece theatre, which was a dream come true. But it frustrates me when television dramas tread roughshod over forensic science, making absurd claims for what can be done, when the truth, as mundane as it often can be, is so much more fascinating. To this end I have just graduated with an Mlitt from the University of Dundee in Crime Fiction and Forensic Investigation. I hope this will lend my books an air of authenticity and dramatic drive.

Tim's book list on forensic investigation in murder cases

Tim Sullivan Why did Tim love this book?

On a slightly lighter note, although still involved in the solving of murder, this book is written by a forensic botanist.

It’s about how dirt, seeds, and grasses can be utilised in solving crime. An unusual and unique career and all the more fascinating because of it. He talks about his frustration with dealing with some police officers who don’t appreciate how important this science can be.

It’s a brilliant demonstration of how simple, old botanical observations are still relevant and can be crucial in solving a murder in an age of DNA and digital analysis. All of this explained in language that we can all understand.

By Mark A. Spencer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Murder Most Florid as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dr Mark Spencer is a forensic botanist - in other words, he helps police with cases where plants can unlock clues to solve crimes, from murder and rape to arson and burglary.

Murder Most Florid is an enthralling, first-person account that follows Mark's unconventional and unique career, one that takes him to woodlands, wasteland and roadsides, as well as police labs, to examine the botanical evidence of serious crimes. From unearthing a decomposing victim from brambles to dissecting the vegetation of a shallow grave, Mark's botanical knowledge can be crucial to securing a conviction.

More widely, this gripping book challenges…


Book cover of This Green World

Mark Warren Author Of Wild Plants and Survival Lore

From my list on nature education and survival skills.

Who am I?

As a child I was drawn to the forest by its aesthetics. I felt as if I were wandering through a masterpiece painting. As I grew older, I wanted to know more about the many working parts of nature. I quickly learned this: If I wanted to know nature intimately, I needed to know what the Native Americans knew. After years of study and honing skills, I undertook seasonal, self-imposed “survival trips” in remote areas of the National Forest. As an adult I served as a naturalist for the Georgia Conservancy, wilderness director for High Meadows Camp, and as director of my own wilderness school – Medicine Bow – in the Appalachian Mountains.


Mark's book list on nature education and survival skills

Mark Warren Why did Mark love this book?

For a basic understanding of how the plant world functions and fits into the web of life, this book will give the reader a good foundation for entering into the vast domain of botany. The study of plants should be the first undertaking of the survival student. Why? Because plants provide most of your resource materials, and – unlike animals – they are accessible all the time. Meaning, they don’t run away.

By Rutherford Hayes Platt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Green World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sm Quarto, 1988, pp.252, A Lively Account By One Of The Eras Most Important Writers


Book cover of Winter: From the Journal of Henry D. Thoreau

Jacqueline Raposo Author Of The Me, Without: A Year Exploring Habit, Healing, and Happiness

From my list on nature books to help us disconnect from modern life.

Who am I?

Journalistic interviewer Jacqueline Raposo has created hundreds of stories discussing the human condition for magazines, websites, podcasts, and her book, The Me Without—a personal growth memoir exploring the science and spirit of habit change. Chronically ill and disabled, she’s never uncovered a new app, product, or study as directly beneficial to emotional health as time spent observing the natural world.

Jacqueline's book list on nature books to help us disconnect from modern life

Jacqueline Raposo Why did Jacqueline love this book?

Modern living requires that we move, consume, absorb, and process quickly—and our bodies can’t always keep up. Thoreau’s journals transport us back to Massachusetts between 1837 and 1860, where his recordings of seeds and birds and worms, his philosophies on man and mankind, and his personal struggles against all else are set against the hush of frozen rivers, crackling fires, and ringing telegraph wires. Especially when read daily, this most prolific botanist, transcendentalist, and introvert of New England history reminds us to value the comfort of contemporary living, but never to forget the value of moving, observing, and living a slow and intentional life.

By Henry David Thoreau,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Winter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book has been considered by academicians and scholars of great significance and value to literature. This forms a part of the knowledge base for future generations. So that the book is never forgotten we have represented this book in a print format as the same form as it was originally first published. Hence any marks or annotations seen are left intentionally to preserve its true nature.


Book cover of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

Bethany Stahl Author Of Save the Ocean

From my list on non-fiction that inspire you to love earth.

Who am I?

I am an author, illustrator, herbalist, and aromatherapist with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology. I’ve spent years working with native flora and fauna from propagating endangered plants back into their natural habitats and swimming through alligator-infested waters to rescue baby manatees who’ve been abandoned. This list is a look into the wonderful works that have touched me deeply and pivoted me deeper into understanding the world we share.

Bethany's book list on non-fiction that inspire you to love earth

Bethany Stahl Why did Bethany love this book?

I loved diving deeply into my personal connection with Mother Earth.

Robin Wall Kimmerer brings a knowledgeable and spiritual connection that has left me appreciating the native sweetgrass and flora in my yard as something deeper and more profound than their ecological definition. Forever now will I see sweetgrass as the hair of Mother Earth.

By Robin Wall Kimmerer,

Why should I read it?

43 authors picked Braiding Sweetgrass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Called the work of "a mesmerizing storyteller with deep compassion and memorable prose" (Publishers Weekly) and the book that, "anyone interested in natural history, botany, protecting nature, or Native American culture will love," by Library Journal, Braiding Sweetgrass is poised to be a classic of nature writing. As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer asks questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces indigenous teachings that consider plants and animals to be our oldest teachers. Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take "us on a journey that is…


Book cover of Medical Botany: Plants Affecting Man's Health

Thomas Leo Ogren Author Of The Allergy-Fighting Garden: Stop Asthma and Allergies with Smart Landscaping

From my list on allergy-friendly landscapes.

Who am I?

I am now considered by many as the expert on creating allergy-free and allergy-friendly gardens and landscapes. I have lectured on the subject all across the US and Canada, and also in Israel, Ireland, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia. For 30+ years now I’ve been researching the connections between urban landscaping and allergies and asthma. My articles have appeared in dozens of fine publications, including The New York Times, The London Times, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, Atlas Obscura, Scientific American, Der Spiegel, and The New Scientist. I have owned two nurseries and taught horticulture for twenty years. 

Thomas' book list on allergy-friendly landscapes

Thomas Leo Ogren Why did Thomas love this book?

This is the best book on medical botany. The authors are both top experts on biology and botany, and among his peers in biology, Walter H. Lewis is known as the medical botanist. Just packed with interesting, useful information not found anywhere else. Widely used as a university textbook for medical botany…but extremely readable. Highly recommended!

By Walter H. Lewis, Memory P. F. Elvin-Lewis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Medical Botany as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Plants as Medicine.... A Natural Approach to Self-Health Medical Botany: Plants Affecting Man?s Health, Walter H. Lewis, Memory P.F. Elvin-Lewis

Medical Botany is a fascinating look at the facts and fictions surrounding plants and man?not only which plants affect our bodies, but how they affect them. Authoritative, rich in anecdote and lore, lavishly illustrated, this encyclopedic reference brings within your reach the curative, healing, poisonous, allergenic, and psychoactive properties of thousands of plants. Its ready reference format allows you to turn instantly to information about a specific plant?s properties, its history, its use in orthodox medicine (where applicable) and its…


Book cover of Ship Fever: Stories

Elise Blackwell Author Of Hunger

From my list on that lie to tell the truth.

Who am I?

Three of my five novels have largely tragic historical settings—the siege of Leningrad, the Great Flood of 1927, and Hurricane Katrina—and I’ve always been fascinated and awed by how people survive the things they do. The origin of “May you live in interesting times” is disputed, but undoubtedly it's more curse than blessing. I’m also just fascinated by the way writers bring real people and events to life in new ways. As the daughter of scientists, I’m often drawn to works of fiction that feature scientists, real or invented. 

Elise's book list on that lie to tell the truth

Elise Blackwell Why did Elise love this book?

I’m the daughter of two scientists, and this book was deeply important to me when I first read it. It helped me understand my parents’ passion for and pursuit of botanical knowledge. Many of the characters in this collection (a novella and stories) are fictional botanists, but historical figures appear in several stories. For instance, “The English Pupil” features an elderly Carl Linnaeus and explores themes of botany and regret.

By Andrea Barrett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ship Fever as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The elegant short fictions gathered hereabout the love of science and the science of love are often set against the backdrop of the nineteenth century. Interweaving historical and fictional characters, they encompass both past and present as they negotiate the complex territory of ambition, failure, achievement, and shattered dreams. In "Ship Fever," the title novella, a young Canadian doctor finds himself at the center of one of history's most tragic epidemics. In "The English Pupil," Linnaeus, in old age, watches as the world he organized within his head slowly drifts beyond his reach. And in "The Littoral Zone," two marine…