The Nature of Plants:
An Introduction to How Plants Work

Craig N. Huegel


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“[A] superbly well-explained primer. . . . This is an outstanding introduction that will serve avid gardeners well, and may also sway those who previously viewed plant life as inert and absent of interest.”—Publishers Weekly
 
“Encourages each of us to look at plants more thoughtfully and to consider the processes that take place every day that largely go unnoticed. You will better appreciate plants after reading Huegel’s book.”—Nicole Pinson, urban horticulture agent and master gardener coordinator, UF/IFAS Hillsborough County Extension  
 
“Huegel explains plant structure and biology in a manner that is accessible and useful for the home gardener or weekend naturalist.”—Marc S. Frank, extension botanist, University of Florida Herbarium  
 
“An entertaining and insightful glimpse into the intricate workings of the plant kingdom.”—Erin Goergen, St. Petersburg College  
 
Plants play a critical role in how we experience our environment. They create calming green spaces, provide oxygen for us to breathe, and nourish our senses. In The Nature of Plants, ecologist and nursery owner Craig Huegel demystifies the complex lives of plants and provides readers with an elucidating journey into their inner and outer workings.  
 
Beginning with the importance of light, water, and soil, Huegel describes photosynthesis, plant circadian rhythms, and how best to position plants to receive optimal sunlight. He explains choosing artificial lights for landscaping, giving lucky bamboo its twisted shape, and tricking flowers like poinsettias to bloom at a specific time of year. He reveals how plants use water, what paths it takes to move nutrients and fuel growth, and why too much—or too little—can hurt. He also explains what essential elements plants need to flourish and what friendly bacteria, fungi, and insects help make a healthy soil.  
 
Sections on plant structure and reproduction focus in detail on major plant organs—roots, stems, and leaves—and cover flowering, pollination, fruit development, and seed germination. The intricacies behind how plants reproduce are unraveled, including why not all flowering plants need pollinators, how it can take decades for some plants to produce offspring, and whether parents recognize their kin. Huegel even delves into the mysterious world of plant communication, exploring the messages and warnings conveyed to animals or other plants through chemical scents and hormones.  
 
With color illustrations, photographs, and real-life examples from his own gardening experiences, Huegel equips budding botanists, ecologists, and even the most novice gardeners with knowledge that will help them understand and foster plants of all types.  
 
Craig N. Huegel is owner and operator of Hawthorn Hill Native Wildflowers and teaches biology at St. Petersburg College. He is a former faculty member of the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida, where he cofounded the Cooperative Urban Wildlife Extension Program. He is the author of Native Florida Plants for Shady Landscapes, Native Wildflowers and Other Ground Covers for Florida Landscapes, and Native Plant Landscaping for Florida Wildlife.
 
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