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The Reason for Flowers

Their History, Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives

About The Book

“Fascinating...Buchmann’s knowledge and enthusiasm jump off the page.” —The Wall Street Journal

“An extraordinarily good book.” —Edward O. Wilson

The lively and definitive story of the beauty, sexuality, lore, economics, and ecology of the world ’s flowers, written by a devoted scientist and illustrated with his stunning photographs.

Flowers—and the fruits they often become—feed, clothe, and inspire us. Indeed, they have done so for all of human history. Yet although we use flowers to celebrate important occasions, to express love, and to please our senses, we know little about them, their functions in nature, or even how we depend on them.

In a volume that will delight gardeners, naturalists, cooks, artists, or anyone interested in history or culture, pollination ecologist Stephen Buchmann serves as an expert guide through the fascinating world of flowers. He explains how other species relate to flowers in ways crucial to the natural world. Next he takes us on an engaging exploration of the roles flowers play in the production of food, spices, medicines, and perfumes. Flowering plants, Buchmann then shows, have long served as inspirational themes in art and literature. Flowers have in fact so thoroughly seduced us that we now buy some ten million a day, driving breeders to create infinite varieties and unusual blooms. In this cultural and natural investigation of floral history, Stephen Buchmann’s masterful narrative illuminates just why there is, indeed, a reason for flowers.

About The Author

© Kay A. Richter

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

Product Details

  • Publisher: Scribner (July 21, 2015)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781476755540

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Raves and Reviews

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."

– Science News

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

– Wall Street Journal

"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."

– Time magazine

"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."

– Booklist

"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."

– Kirkus


– Library Journal

"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."

– Publishers Weekly

“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

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