The Botany of Desire

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The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World is a 2001 nonfiction book by journalist Michael Pollan. Pollan presents case studies that mirror four types of human desires that are reflected in the way that we selectively grow, breed, and genetically engineer our plants. The tulip, beauty; cannabis, intoxication; the apple, sweetness; and the potato, control.

The Botany of Desire
BotanyofDesire full.jpg
AuthorMichael Pollan
PublisherRandom House
Publication date
Media typePrint
Preceded byA Place of My Own 
Followed byThe Omnivore's Dilemma 

The stories range from the true story of Johnny Appleseed to Pollan's first-hand research with sophisticated cannabis hybrids in Amsterdam to the paradigm-shifting possibilities of genetically engineered potatoes. Pollan also discusses the limitations of monoculture agriculture: specifically, the adoption in Ireland of a single breed of potato (the Irish Lumper) which made the Irish vulnerable to a fungus to which the breed had no resistance, resulting in the Great Famine. The Peruvians from whom the Irish had gotten the potato grew hundreds of varieties, so their exposure to any given pest was slight.

PBS documentaryEdit

The book was used as the basis for The Botany of Desire, a two-hour program broadcast by PBS.[1][2]

Publication dataEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Lloyd, Robert. "The Botany of Desire". Los Angeles Times. 28 October 2009. Retrieved 28 October 2009.
  2. ^ "In Production". PBS International. Retrieved 28 October 2009.

External linksEdit