The most recommended plant books

Who picked these books? Meet our 30 experts.

30 authors created a book list connected to plants, and here are their favorite plant books.
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What type of plant book?


Book cover of Around the World in 80 Trees

Anna Lewington Author Of Birch

From my list on the cultural importance of trees.

Who am I?

Trees have been important to me throughout my life. I was lucky to grow up surrounded by ancient woodland in the English countryside. When most of that woodland was felled in the 1970s it made me think deeply about the importance of plants to people. I was privileged later, to spend time with indigenous peoples in Latin America learning about what trees and plants mean to them. I now write about how plants are perceived and used. After several children's books I wrote Plants For People which describes the plants we use in our daily lives and Ancient Trees which celebrates tree species that live for over a thousand years.

Anna's book list on the cultural importance of trees

Anna Lewington Why did Anna love this book?

I like this book because, while drawing on a number of other sources on this theme, it introduces us, in relatively few words per chapter, to the importance of a range of tree species to people, in a great variety of ways. 

Selecting 80 species - from England’s ‘London Plane’ to the ‘Sugar Maple’ of Canada - the book takes us on a journey around the world, by geographical region, summarizing key botanical information about each one and giving us examples of its significance or uses, past and/or present, often surprising or little known.

Each chapter has been beautifully illustrated by Lucille Clerk.

By Jonathan Drori,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Around the World in 80 Trees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Beautiful to behold and to read" - THE SUNDAY TIMES

"An arboreal odyssey" - NATURE

"One of the most quietly beautiful books of the year" - DAILY MAIL

"Jonathan Drori's deep-seated love of nature is contagious in this tree-by-tree journey across countries and continents. A book to take your time over" - WIRED

Jonathan Drori's number one bestseller, now available in paperback!

Bestselling author and environmentalist Jonathan Drori follows in the footsteps of Phileas Fogg as he tells the stories of 80 magnificent trees from all over the globe.

In Around the World in 80 Trees, Jonathan Drori uses plant…

Book cover of The Explorer's Garden: Rare and Unusual Perennials

Robert Pavlis Author Of Garden Myths: Book 1

From my list on practical gardening.

Who am I?

I love gardening and learning about unusual plants but I find that many gardening books don’t provide a lot of useful advice. I grow over 3,000 different types of plants and have a background in chemistry and biochemisty. I teach gardening to new gardeners and garden design to more experienced gardeners. My students want to learn practical things like solving pest problems and growing plants with more flowers. I am always on the lookout for books that provide them with hands-on practical advice they can use right away. 

Robert's book list on practical gardening

Robert Pavlis Why did Robert love this book?

I am a plant collector and love growing unusual plants, especially perennials. When I first picked up The Explorers Garden, many of the plants in it were new to me. I fell in love with Daniel Hinkley and his plant selections and have now grown many of the plants in this book.

Unlike many perennial books that all show you the same 100 common plants, this book is full of plants nobody else talks about. Daniel Hinkley travels the world to discover new plants and describes some of the best in this book. These plants are uncommon, but many are now available in better nurseries.

By Daniel J. Hinkley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Explorer's Garden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dan Hinkley's quest for distinctive plants has led him on expeditions to China, Korea, Nepal, Chile, and remote areas of North America. "The Explorer's Garden: Rare and Unusual Perennials" presents the most fascinating perennials found during Hinkley's treks around the globe, describes the assets each plant brings to the garden, and explains how it is best cultivated and propagated. Illustrated with Hinkley's own splendid photographs as well as those of Lynne Harrison, this new paperback edition includes a new preface by the author and a completely updated list of sources for plant material.

Book cover of Brilliant Green: The Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence

Peter Gloor Author Of Happimetrics: Leveraging AI to Untangle the Surprising Link Between Ethics, Happiness and Business Success

From my list on interspecies communication.

Who am I?

As a boy I was fascinated by the bees my father was keeping. Their swarming behavior has become the blueprint for my own life. As a software manager at UBS, a partner at PwC, and Deloitte developing e-business strategies for Fortune 500 firms, I tried—sometimes not very successfullyto be a bee. Twenty years ago, I switched sides, since then, as a researcher at MIT, I am developing the concept of COINsCollaborative Innovation Networks. Our team has leveraged AI to build tools and methods for creative swarms, first among humans, and now also including other living beings, such as dogs, horses, cats, cows, and mimosa and basil plants.

Peter's book list on interspecies communication

Peter Gloor Why did Peter love this book?

While we think of humans as the pinnacle of evolution, plants are far more successful than humans and other animals, both in terms of biomass, and in their capabilities of interacting with the environment. Mancuso heads the institute of plant neurobiology at the University of Florence, where he studies the neural patterns of plants, continuing where Cleve Backster stopped fifteen years ago in his research on “primary perception” of plants. After having read this fascinating book, you will never interact the same way with your houseplants as before, starting to see them not as a piece of furniture, but as a sentient creature sharing your dwelling, capable of solving complex tasks impossible to humans.

By Stefano Mancuso, Alessandra Viola, Joan Benham (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A leading plant scientist offers a new understanding of the botanical world and a passionate argument for intelligent plant life. Are plants intelligent? Can they solve problems, communicate, and navigate their surroundings? For centuries, philosophers and scientists have argued that plants are unthinking and inert, yet discoveries over the past fifty years have challenged this idea, shedding new light on the complex interior lives of plants. In Brilliant Green, leading scientist Stefano Mancuso presents a new paradigm in our understanding of the vegetal world. He argues that plants process information, sleep, remember, and signal to one another- showing that, far…

Book cover of Lala's Words: A Story of Planting Kindness

Danica Novgorodoff Author Of Alexander von Humboldt: Explorer, Naturalist & Environmental Pioneer

From my list on playing in nature.

Who am I?

When I was growing up, my favorite books were about kids getting lost in the wilderness. Now, as an artist and writer, I love to create stories about people’s connection to land and the plants and animals that inhabit natural spaces. The inspiration for my picture book biography, Alexander von Humboldt: Explorer, Naturalist & Environmental Pioneer, came after hiking many of the volcanoes that Humboldt had climbed some 200 years earlier in South America. Besides hiking, I occupy myself with drawing and watercolor painting, climate activism, and looking at bugs and rocks with my daughters. I’ve published four graphic novels, two picture books, and a cookbook about rice.

Danica's book list on playing in nature

Danica Novgorodoff Why did Danica love this book?

This book reminds me of my neighborhood in Brooklyn, with its sweltering summer streets and “empty” lots overflowing with weeds. Of course, as Lala discovers, an empty lot is rarely actually empty.

Lala develops a deep friendship with the plants in one patch of dirt and concrete—her own urban secret garden. When her mom makes her stay inside one especially hot day (“Stop playing with weeds and leaves!” her exasperated mother cries), Lala mourns not being able to visit her beloved garden. But her care and kind words have grown something magnificent… And I adore the loose, brushy artwork in this book.

By Gracey Zhang,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lala's Words as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2022 Ezra Jack Keats Illustrator Award!

From debut author-illustrator Gracey Zhang comes a timeless and timely picture book that celebrates the unassuming power of kind words.

Oh, there goes Lala! She carries a pot of water around the corner, down the block, and over the fence, to a patch of dirt and concrete where tiny weeds sprout. "Hello, hello, friends!" she whispers. Lala waters the plants every day, but it is her kind words that make them sway and nod.

Lala's wild nature and quiet compassion enchant in this evergreen story about the power of kind words…

Book cover of The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants

Leda Meredith Author Of The Skillful Forager: Essential Techniques for Responsible Foraging and Making the Most of Your Wild Edibles

From my list on foraging free wild edible plants and mushrooms.

Who am I?

I started foraging when I was a toddler and my Greek great-grandmother took me to a park to gather dandelion leaves. I read foraging field guides almost incessantly (still do). Eventually, I got a certification in Ethnobotany and went professional. I love teaching and sharing my passion for wild foods through my books, workshops, and videos. One of the most rewarding moments for me is when a student realizes that something I’ve just identified as a safe and delicious edible is a plant that grows all around them. It’s a game-changer. They can’t go back to seeing any plant as “just a weed."

Leda's book list on foraging free wild edible plants and mushrooms

Leda Meredith Why did Leda love this book?

Like all of Sam’s books, this one is a gold mine of detailed, in-depth information about the plants he features in it. His information is beyond trustworthy: he is so familiar with his subject that it is as if he is inviting you to get to know some of his best friends (the plants). My copy is dog-eared and field-stained from all the use I have put it to.

By Samuel Thayer,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Forager's Harvest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A guide to 32 of the best and most common edible wild plants in North America, with detailed information on how to identify them, where they are found, how and when they are harvested, which parts are used, how they are prepared, as well as their culinary use, ecology, conservation, and cultural history.

Book cover of Singing to the Plants: A Guide to Mestizo Shamanism in the Upper Amazon

Andy Letcher Author Of Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom

From my list on the riddle of psychedelics.

Who am I?

I've been fascinated by psychedelics since I was a teenager, and along with my book I’ve written a number of academic papers and book chapters on the subject. It intrigues me how subtle changes in the brain’s chemistry leads to such profound changes in perception, cognition, and feeling, including religious feeling. I want to know what those experiences mean, and what they can tell us about the world. For if all they are is some derangement of the senses, why is it that so many writers, thinkers, philosophers and artists return to the experience, again and again? There is a riddle here, a mystery, and I love that I’m able to devote my research time to trying to answer it.

Andy's book list on the riddle of psychedelics

Andy Letcher Why did Andy love this book?

I suspect that many of us now know someone who’s been to the Amazon to take the psychedelic beverage, ayahuasca, returning with wide eyes and tales of profound healing. Here, anthropologist Stephan Beyer cuts through the romanticisation to present an accurate and engaging picture of ayahuasca shamanism in the Upper Amazon. He asks difficult questions, such as how well shamans actually cure sickness and why so many shamans engage in sorcery, but his inquiry is never less than sympathetic. That he peppers the book with his own psychedelic, ayahuasca visions, makes this one of the most accessible and engaging books on the subject.

By Stephan V. Beyer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Singing to the Plants as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the Upper Amazon, mestizos are the Spanish-speaking descendants of Hispanic colonizers and the indigenous peoples of the jungle. Some mestizos have migrated to Amazon towns and cities, such as Iquitos and Pucallpa; most remain in small villages. They have retained features of a folk Catholicism and traditional Hispanic medicine, and have incorporated much of the religious tradition of the Amazon, especially its healing, sorcery, shamanism, and the use of potent plant hallucinogens, including ayahuasca. The result is a uniquely eclectic shamanist culture that continues to fascinate outsiders with its brilliant visionary art. Ayahuasca shamanism is now part of global…

Book cover of The World Without Us

Kevin Herbst Author Of The End of Heroes

From my list on SF&F for spring.

Who am I?

Starting with Tolkien’s novels as a child, I’ve devoured countless SF&F stories. My love of the genre, particularly high fantasy, combined with the irritatingly fashionable trend of so many fantasy authors to stop writing their stories partway through and leave we readers high and dry, motivated me to start writing, to see if I could create something that I was missing as I hunted for new material to read. As an intense hater of winter, spring always signified to me a time of hope, of new growth, of opportunity, of the ending of difficulty, and the start of a time when all things were possible. 

Kevin's book list on SF&F for spring

Kevin Herbst Why did Kevin love this book?

Much SF&F literature has explored the concept of what the world might look like with fewer (or no) humans.

Weisman’s well-researched book imagines how our environment would recover; how nature might take back control without humans around to continue wrecking it.

He imagines the primacy of nature in a fascinating way and manages to avoid the normative language that might be off-putting, drawing the reader into a place that might as well be 1000 light years away from Earth.

By Alan Weisman,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The World Without Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Revised Edition with New Afterword from the Author

Time #1 Nonfiction Book of the Year

Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award

Over 3 million copies sold in 35 Languages

"On the day after humans disappear, nature takes over and immediately begins cleaning house - or houses, that is. Cleans them right off the face of the earth. They all go."

What if mankind disappeared right now, forever... what would happen to the Earth in a week, a year, a millennium? Could the planet's climate ever recover from human activity? How would nature destroy our huge cities and our…

Book cover of Living Wild: How to Plant Style Your Home and Cultivate Happiness

Kim Kuhteubl Author Of Branding + Interior Design: Visibility and Business Strategy for Interior Designers

From my list on feeling at home.

Who am I?

I am an award-winning producer, author, and member of the Producers Guild of America. One of my fondest memories as a child is coming home from a weekend at my oma’s house to find that my mother had redecorated my room. The bedspread was pink, red, and white and so were the curtains but the main event was the fluffy white pouf of a rug on the floor. Home is a place that has always been important to me, which is why these books have found their way into my library.

Kim's book list on feeling at home

Kim Kuhteubl Why did Kim love this book?

I used to fancy myself as having a green thumb, until I planted my first outdoor garden.

These days I’m back inside with Hilton Carter’s Living Wild. Based in Baltimore, Carter is a director, editor, and fine artist with an encyclopedic knowledge about plants and how to style them. He’s also the dad to 250 plants including a fiddle-leaf named Frank.

In this, his fourth book, Living Wild, he talks about everything that is needed to design a “living home” and walks the reader through rooms he’s styled and his process. Check out his Instagram for a Living Wild playlist. 

By Hilton Carter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Living Wild, bestselling plant stylist, author, designer and family man Hilton Carter explores multiple ways to style your home with plants - and cultivate happiness along the way.

The therapeutic benefits of living with and tending plants are well known - they offer a connection to the natural world that nurtures our mental and physical health. In this, his latest book, Hilton shows how to create a lush, stylish space with flourishing plants that bring life to your home and promote a happy and contented mindset. He discusses interior design choices - choosing the right colour scheme, textures and…

Book cover of The Secret Life of Plants: A Fascinating Account of the Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Relations Between Plants and Man

Charles Dowding Author Of No Dig: Nurture Your Soil to Grow Better Veg with Less Effort

From my list on to help you grow your garden on your own.

Who am I?

Since 1979 the life of soil and plants, and how they link to our own lives and health, has fascinated me. In the 1980s I was a maverick because as an organic market gardener, my work was mostly seen as irrelevant to society, producing food that was expensive and for only a few people. That changed from 1988 when the BBC filmed my garden, and green consciousness developed. Since then I have gone from being zero to hero and especially with regard to soil because since 1982 I've been gardening with the no dig method. My experience allows me to direct you towards these gems, which I'm sure you will find useful and enjoyable.

Charles' book list on to help you grow your garden on your own

Charles Dowding Why did Charles love this book?

Plants feel things. Cleve Backster, an American detective who used lie detectors when interviewing suspects, discovered that plants made his detector needle swing wildly in response to thoughts he was having. Especially bad ones like that he might put boiling water on their leaves. He ran many experiments and found that plants also have memory, and react if people are lying about something in their presence!

Plants grow better for us when we treat them with love and respect. In return, they grow a warm and healthy look to their leaves which looks pleasing. We then appreciate each other in a loop of positive feedback. This book opened my eyes to what is possible when working with clients, and the fun we can have in helping them to express themselves.

By Peter Tompkins, Christopher Bird,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Secret Life of Plants as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Explore the inner world of plants and its fascinating relation to mankind, as uncovered by the latest discoveries of science. A perennial bestseller.

In this truly revolutionary and beloved work, drawn from remarkable research, Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird cast light on the rich psychic universe of plants. Now available in a new edition, The Secret Life of Plants explores plants' response to human care and nurturing, their ability to communicate with man, plants' surprising reaction to music, their lie-detection abilities, their creative powers, and much more. Tompkins and Bird's classic book affirms the depth of humanity's relationship with nature…

Book cover of Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide

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?

Putting a wild plant into one’s mouth must be preceded by positive identification. This book’s text and photos offer guidance and recipes. It doesn’t try to cover a huge number of plant species, but the plants that are included are covered in more detail than in most plant books. The introduction alone, in my opinion, is worth the price of this book.

By Thomas S. Elias, Peter A. Dykeman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Already a huge success in previous editions, this must-have field guide now features a fresh new cover, as well as nearly 400 color photos and detailed information on more than 200 species of edible plants all across North America. With all the plants conveniently organized by season, enthusiasts will find it very simple to locate and identify their desired ingredients. Each entry includes images, plus facts on the plant’s habitat, physical properties, harvesting, preparation, and poisonous look-alikes. The introduction contains tempting recipes and there’s a quick-reference seasonal key for each plant.

“Season-by-season guide to identification, harvest, and preparation of more…