Welcome to the wonderful world of weedy plants!
Weeds are superevolutionary products of human civilizations and activities - without humans there would be no weeds, just wild plants.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Richard Mabey's book reviewed in NY Times

The book WEEDS: in Defense of Nature’s Most Unloved Plants by Richard Mabey is reviewed in New York Times today.  It is great review, but once again there is a common mistake in how evolution works by the writer of the review (and maybe also by Mabey, I am not sure since I haven't read the book yet):

"One can’t help being impressed by weeds’ ingenuity. They’ve grown hooks, burrs, spines, rib hairs and a sort of glue to move their seeds around."

Weeds haven't grown these things.  Plants that had these characters, evolved from genetic variation and mutations over a long time, became weeds because of them.  To become a weed is a secondary thing, not something that forces a plant in a certain evolutionary direction.  

It is interesting though how our weed project hits exactly the same notes as Mabey's book.  History, culture, biology, medicine, and the misunderstood weeds connecting it all.

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