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9781742237688

The Plant Thieves Secrets of the herbarium

by
  • ISBN13:

    9781742237688

  • ISBN10:

    1742237681

  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2023-05-01
  • Publisher: NewSouth
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Supplemental Materials

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Summary

The Plant Thieves reveals remarkable stories from the National Herbarium of New South Wales – its people, its archives and its most guarded specimens. Who gets to collect plants, name them, propagate them, extract their chemicals, sell them and use them? Whose knowledge is it? And what can the people that work with plants, just outside the law, teach us about plant care? In The Plant Thieves, Prudence Gibson explores the secrets of the National Herbarium of New South Wales and unearths remarkable stories of plant naming wars, rediscovered lost species, First Nations agriculture, illegal drug labs and psychoactive plant knowledge. Gibson reveals the tale of the anti-inflammatory plant that saved a herbarium manager when she was collecting in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, stories about the secret wollemi pine plantation (from one of its botanical guardians) and the truth about a beach daisy that has changed so much in 100 years that it needs to be completely reclassified. She also follows the story of the black bean Songline, a recent collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers, to find the route of this important agriculture plant. The Plant Thieves is both a lament for lost and disappearing species and a celebration of being human, of wanting to collect things and of learning more about plant life and ourselves.

Author Biography

Prudence Gibson is an author and research academic in plant studies at Art and Design, University of NSW. She is lead investigator of an Australian Research Council project on the herbarium. She is the author of Janet Laurence: The pharmacy of plants and a contributor to Art and Australia, Sydney Review of Books and The Conversation.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Brett Summerell Introduction Part one First encounters Meeting the herbarium Meeting my first herbarium specimen Luke and the banksia Joseph Banks in the herbarium Two-way botany Zombie fungus and the black drink The ugly hornwort ‘ Barbara is amazing’ Discovering the monster Uncle Ivan Lifeblood: Aunty Susan and Natalie White death Denise and the black bean Dieffenbachia and the Himmler story Part two Psychoactive plants and their keepers The cacao ceremony Who can access the plants? Colonised by the plants: psychoactive cacti gardens The cactus fail Fungi fever Psychoactive wattle Psychotherapy Plant drug legislation Biosecurity and Shelley’ s broken wrist Part three Rewilding, conservation and creative revaluing The wild banksia woman and rewilding debates The missing daisy and lost species Fast evolution Bioprospecting and the African olive trees Hardenbergia and the witches forest Violence and murder Labyrinth Collecting is a curse Plant blindness Cathy Offord and the wollemi The plant artists Dakota and the flame tree poem The plant smells of memory The rights of plants My mother and the orchids The banksia: plant-spirit Acknowledgements Notes

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