The Plant Messiah: Adventures in Search of the World’s Rarest Species ranges very far, to Asia, South America, and Australia (from the home base of the Kew gardens), looking for vulnerable plants that need help to survive. Propagating the plants requires knowledge of their pollination cycle, and some are amazingly complicated, with the same flower transforming from night to night into male and female receptors, to welcome different pollinating insects–not to mention pollinating geckos!
What I did not like as much as the adventure was the author’s ongoing self-satisfaction. I had thought that the title was tongue-in-cheek, but he feels the need to remind us regularly that he was the first one to germinate this plant or another, and it is annoying. Also, although the Royal Botanical Gardens is a remarkable institution, it’s not entirely clear that it should be the only place in the world to undertake all the work to save species: why not, instead, help local institutions?