Monday, October 15, 2012

Other than Google

Although the internet is a wonderful way to find information... something inside of me doubts the validity of some of what I find. Sure, it's very easy to lie about anything on the internet, but I also feel like the whole picture is not always displayed. With enough research you can find the information you want but... it just doesn't feel as solid to me. If that makes sense.

So lately I've been trying other ways of learning about and looking at plants. One way in particular I have had much fun with lately.

A book I bought at my local library for 25 cents.
It's on sale on eBay for $75

Libraries sometimes hold sales in order to make room for new additions. Not every library does this and it was something I was fairly oblivious to before I moved to the west coast. Lots of the books for sale hail from anywhere between the 1930's to present day, offering a wide variety of topics and writing styles. At the two I have attended, I was immediately drawn to the gardening section. There were old botany text books that still included fungi and bacteria in the kingdom Plantae along side guides to Californian and Oregonian flora.

Two pages from  "A Golden Guide: Cacti" which can be read here

So far I've amounted 19 books on plants, all hard cover and rather thick, and every one cost 50 cents or a dollar! It's a bargain that is impossible to resist! But there's only one problem...

While older books specifically on gardening are still viable for useful information, the more informational/botanical books tend to be... very out of date. It's better to read them with caution as much of their information is probably incorrect. They're still very interesting though! For example, in The Book of Cacti and Other Succulents (1958) the author repeatedly comments on how certain genera have been renamed many times over the course of their history. It's sort of funny because some continue to change even today! (Tacitus bellus for example.)

A page from Claude Chidamian's "The Book of Cacti and Other Succulents"

All in all, older books are cheaper to buy, interesting to read, but less reliable than more expensive current books and even the internet to an extent. But still... you'd be surprised at how interesting of a read some of them can be.