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Exotica: Pictorial Cyclopedia of Exotic Plants

Submitter: If you put your hand over the bottom of the cover and ask people what the book is about you get lots of fun answers.  I’m not sure what the cover art means but it’s colorful. The book contains 12,000 illustrations (204 of them in color) of really exotic plants like begonias, ferns, philodendrons, geraniums, and a host of other fairly common house plants.  Other than the scientific names, un-thrilling black and white photos, and occasional brief passages the book contains almost no information on the 12,000 plants but the introduction page does include the quote: “Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt” –William Shakespeare.  Like the cover, I am not sure what that has to do with the book but it sounds motivational. (The monkey fern is a favorite even though it is a little creepy.)

Holly:  The monkey fern is so cool!  Creepy, but pretty neat too!  Yeah, my complaint about this, besides the fact that it is 34 years old, is the weird cover.  The pictures are pretty bad quality too.  A new book might have nice color photos.


0 Responses to Exotica

  • Alfred Byrd Graf wrote Exotica, Hortica, and Tropica on plant identification. Exotica covered houseplants and you’re showing the 1972 third edition. Though lacking the color plates and added heft of the 1985 fourth edition; the third edition is still useful as an affordable substitute for the $1000 fourth edition.

  • WTF That monkey fern thing looks like it has eyes. It’s staring into my soul.

  • I’m not sure what a chick with one leg has to do with plants but it is colorful. Maybe the leg is hidden. Plants isn’t the word that comes to mind. For all anyone knows it could be some kind of sex manual. And that monkey fern thing is creepy. I hope I don’t have nightmares tonight.

  • My concern about this book would be the cover. It is not only a “weird” cover, but also a racist cover. They put a photo of an Asian woman on the cover with the title “Exotica” (because Asian women are supposedly exotic?). I’m not even Asian, and I am offended by this cover.

  • Obviously the editor realised that the book never was going to sell if they used one of the plant pictures on the cover, so he asked his assistant to get something attractive and exotic.

  • Never has a book so ironically deserved the “weeding” tag.

  • Ironically, we just weeded this last week. Hopefully we will find something just as exotic to replace it with.

  • I’ve been laughing at all the various titles submitted – until I came to this one! We HAD it in our reference section, but I have now sent it to discard, thanks to you. (It had never been cataloged, we were trying to decide whether to bother or not, guess not.)

  • How *do* you grow a Thai dancer?

  • I need an honest-to-God explanation for the pitcher plant (or whatever) leaves at the bottom left. Totally random and inexplicable.

  • I have a color version of this book. It cost $115.00 back in the 80s.

  • We actually had this thick book on our coffee table when I grew up! One day I actually peeked inside and thought the photos were awful. I don’t think I ever looked inside again. I always thought this book was strange. I guess my mother thought it was a nice coffee table book because it was thick, but I doubted that she ever looked inside.

  • I hope noone is stupid enough to discard this book. It is a true classic in the plant world and highly collectible. AB Craf was not a racist. Many of the tropical plants featured are of Asian origin.

  • how much is the book worth?

  • believe it or not I do have a copy of this book
    not sure what it’s worth but it is rare

  • OK, so must we quote Bo Diddley once again; “You caint judge a book by lookin’ at the cover.”?
    As Mr. Harper said back in 2010, EXOTICA is a well-known source book for the horticulture of exotic plants (thought of as imported species from different climates & of pronounced adaptive forms being grown in our own temperate climes). AB Graf has amassed a wealth of dependable info about these species & also offers the bonus of info about other less exotic species whithin the same genera(s). I have lusted after this book for years & have never been able to afford it. The best I could do was to find an abridged version called THE EXOTIC PLANT MANUAL. Beyond the solid information, the identification photos probably stand alone (at the time 1st published) as a guide for the laymen’s ID of little-known plants. Anyone seriously into plants is familiar with this landmark book, even though it may have become superceded by subsequent works of a specialist nature. If you want to expunge or discard this title, SEND IT TO ME!