THE SEX LIFE OF PLANTS by Alec Bristow

THE SEX LIFE OF PLANTS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

From its early description of male bees copulating with the Bee Orchid because it bears a striking resemblance to the female bee, to its closing account of the intimate dependency of the fig upon the complex life cycle of the gall wasp, this is a book which celebrates sex. It is sex not only in plants, but willynilly in the birds, bees, and other species responsible for pollination. Unfortunately, the very knowledgeable author (a British expert) has married coyness to pedantry so that the resultant text describes events in arch and anthropomorphic terms (plant rape, incest taboos, infidelity, exhibitionism, homosexuality. . .) or else so labors a point that the reader is worn out with Latinisms or anther-byanther minutiae. Clearly, a few score photos or diagrams would have served admirably. (There are nice line drawings used as chapter ornaments, including some chosen for their fortuitous resemblance to human genitalia like the phallus-shaped Stinkhorn fungus.) If the reader is not put off by the egregious style, there is some good history (the first accounts of plant sex shocked the pious), enough detail to fill a basic botany text, and lots of did-you-know-that kind of cocktail party tidbits. In addition, Bristow makes a point of the quite marvelous interdigitation of plant and animal life in the Evolutionary Grand Scheme of Things. A pity it all has to be spoiled by a running bad joke.

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 1978
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston