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Dan Torre



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Reaktion Books
01 April 2017
Gardening; Succulents & cacti; Trees, wildflowers & plants
Cacti are full of contradictions. Although they can be found in some of the harshest, driest and most barren environments on earth, some are delicate tropical plants that grow high among the branches of the rainforest canopy. Many examples bristle with ferocious-looking spines, while others are completely bare. Nearly all exhibit remarkable floral displays - some having flowers that are even larger than the plant itself.

Cacti have played a prominent role in human history for thousands of years. Some species were revered by ancient civilizations, playing a part in their religious ceremonies; other varieties have been heavily cultivated for food or for the production of the bright red dye cochineal - which is actually derived from a parasitic insect that feeds on the prickly pear cactus. Native to the American continents, cacti have spread worldwide and have become an important feature in many gardens and collections. Although not often in the culinary forefront of people's minds, a number of varieties of cacti are delicious to eat - it is a cactus that produces 'dragon fruit', which is fast becoming one of the world's more popular tropical fruits. 

In Cactus Dan Torre explores the natural, cultural and social history of cacti, with particular emphasis on how these remarkable plants have been represented in art, literature, cinema, animation and popular culture around the world. This is a highly original, entertaining and informative book that will appeal to everyone with an interest in cacti.
By:   Dan Torre
Imprint:   Reaktion Books
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 216mm,  Width: 138mm,  Spine: 23mm
Weight:   567g
ISBN:   9781780237220
ISBN 10:   1780237227
Series:   Botanical
Pages:   224
Publication Date:   01 April 2017
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Dan Torre is a Lecturer in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. He is an avid grower and collector of cacti.

Reviews for Cactus

Cacti's diverse appearance and survival tactics have made them not just the focus of gardeners and photographers from desert to tropical regions, they have inspired sculptors, painters, filmmakers, and writers, and been used by cooks (think dragon fruit), and for their therapeutic qualities such as pain relief and antibacterial properties. The prickly pear was even revered by early civilizations such as the Aztecs. All this, just for a cactus? Look and learn with this entertaining book that uncovers the rich natural, cultural, and social history of a plant with attitude. --Reader's Digest This delightful series is accessible and worthwhile for general readers who are interested in plants, history, or art. Covering the history of human interaction with cacti and especially cactus-inspired art, this work is a fascinating ingress into all things cacti. . . . This work will appeal to a broad range of readers. . . . Highly recommended. --Choice A wide-ranging social and cultural history of cacti that champions a family of plants usually neglected by gardeners. . . . The book is learned and well-researched but always easy to read and full of fascinating anecdotes. . . . For anyone interested in the world of plants it will certainly provide an engaging insight into a fascinating group of plants. It might even stimulate a few gardeners to add a few cacti to their plot. --Gardens Illustrated Torre's book also looks at cacti in art, literature, linguistic phrases, and popular culture. There are cactus fences, cactus medicines, and cactus societies. For a family of plants that has, at times, been widely loathed, it has managed to permeate every aspect of our lives. --The Age (Australia) This fascinating title puts the horticultural specifics of the Cactaceae family in the spotlight, and explores their social and cultural impacts on society. . . . The worldwide popularity of cacti is well documented in these pages through interesting commentary and images. --Gardening Australia Gardeners spend much of the summer biding their time. A shelfful of handsome new books will tide them over. . . . [In Cactus, ] celebrate cacti through art, literature, and culture. --Better Homes and Gardens

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