The Reason for Flowers: Their History, Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives (Hardcover)

The Reason for Flowers: Their History, Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives Cover Image
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Cultural history at its best—the engaging, lively, and definitive story of the beauty, sexuality, ecology, myths, lore, and economics of the world’s flowers, written by a passionately devoted author and scientist, and illustrated with his stunning photographs.

Flowers, and the fruits that follow, feed, clothe, sustain, and inspire all humanity. They have done so since before recorded history. Flowers are used to celebrate all-important occasions, to express love, and are also the basis of global industries. Americans buy ten million flowers a day and perfumes are a worldwide industry worth $30 billion dollars annually. Yet, we know little about flowers, their origins, bizarre sex lives, or how humans relate and depend upon them.

Stephen Buchmann takes us along on an exploratory journey of the roles flowers play in the production of our foods, spices, medicines, perfumes, while simultaneously bringing joy and health. Flowering plants continue to serve as inspiration in our myths and legends, in the fine and decorative arts, and in literary works of prose and poetry. Flowers seduce us—and animals, too—through their myriad shapes, colors, textures, and scents. And because of our extraordinary appetite for more unusual and beautiful “super flowers,” plant breeders have created such unnatural blooms as blue roses and black petunias to cater to the human world of haute couture fashion. In so doing, the nectar and pollen vital to the bees, butterflies, and bats of the world, are being reduced. Buchmann explains the unfortunate consequences, and explores how to counter them by growing the right flowers. Here, he integrates fascinating stories about the many colorful personalities who populate the world of flowers, and the flowers and pollinators themselves, with a research-based narrative that illuminates just why there is, indeed, a Reason for Flowers.

About the Author

Stephen Buchmann, a pollination ecologist specializing in bees, is affiliated with the Departments of Entomology and of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona. A fellow of the Linnean Society of London, he has published over 150 peer-reviewed scientific papers and ten books, including The Forgotten Pollinators with Gary Paul Nabhan, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He lives in Tucson, Arizona. Visit him at

Praise For…

The Reason for Flowers is an extraordinarily good book. It covers the subject with thoroughness and scientific accuracy,working it (as flowers deserve) into history and culture, and written with poetic sensitivity.”
— Edward O. Wilson, University Professor Emeritus, Harvard University

“Do flowers need a reason? In The Reason for Flowers,Stephen Buchmann reminds us that flowers exist for more than just beauty and fragrance. They are miniature chemical factories, wireless signal stations,inspiration for artists, and—of course—sustenance for the most important creatures living on the planet. In short, flowers run the world. Stephen Buchmann is a gifted storyteller and an inquisitive scientist who is intrigued by the dazzling and intricate world of flowers. Thanks to this delightful new book, you will be, too.”
— Amy Stewart, New York Times bestselling author of The Flower Confidential

"The Reason for Flowers is a riveting account of the science, history and culture surrounding blooms since the dawn of humankind."

"[Buchmann's] knowledge and enthusiasm jump off the page...fascinating."

"Humans often use flowers as decorative accessories. But in this book, Stephen Buchmann, a professor of ecology at the University of Arizona, explains that they also serve other, more urgent purposes."

"Buchmann, a prolific and ardent pollination ecologist, peels back the petals to reveal fascinating aspects of floriculture....Intensely researched, well paced, intricately detailed, and delightfully accessible, Buchmann’s exploration of this trove of living sensory delights is a boon to both casual and committed flower lovers."

"With a subtitle that serves as a swift, sweet summary, [Stephen Buchmann] compresses the cultural and natural history of flowers into a few hundred graceful pages...A volume that is like a Eurail Pass that will carry you through gorgeous terrain you will want to explore in more depth."


"Buchmann, a biologist specializing in pollination ecology, uses his eighth book to enthuse about the importance that flowers have played in human civilization...his excitement is both palpable and contagious...fascinating...captivating."

“Stephen Buchmann is to plants and their pollinators as Jaques Cousteau, Sylvia Earle and Carl Safina have been to the oceans. He opens our eyes to wondrous worlds we have never seen before. This world-renowned explorer of nature’s inner workings will delight you while unobtrusively edifying you at the same time.”
— Gary Paul Nabhan, Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable food Systems, University of Arizona

The Reason for Flowers is a gardening book and more. Buchmann entertains with particulars of the patriotic gardens of Washington and Jefferson, and those of Asia and ancient Rome. We learn how our most beloved flowers came to be, along with new oddities like the black petunia. Every gardener and flower-lover will want this book.”
— Carrie Hulburd, President, Columbine Garden Club (GCA chapter) of Phoenix, AZ

“Aesthetically, flowers enrich our lives and symbolize our emotions, but they are of even greater importance to us in their natural function in nature. In this attractive book, Steve Buchmann brings to life for the interested reader the many facets of their existence and their interplay with insects and other animals, informing us well about how they evolved and the roles that they play in our world.”
— Peter H. Raven, President Emeritus, Missouri Botanical Garden

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9781476755526
ISBN-10: 1476755523
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: July 21st, 2015
Pages: 352
Language: English