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The authors survey the ways in which we are losing our ability to survive biologically and present new approaches to regaining it. They examine our planet's green life-layer from every point of view: cultural and artistic, religious, ecological, economic, and scientific. These world respected botanists highlight the true worth of the Plant Kingdom for our lives - from Amazonian rain forests to African violets or tropical foliage plants at the windowsill. India and other lands help provide us with a remarkable arsenal of plant-derived medicines that cure leukemia and other malignancies, that control hypertension, and that also prevent the body from rejecting transplanted organs. Mexico, for instance, produces the wild yams that provide chemical raw materials for the contraceptive pill. And in Kenya, we meet a young wife who brings her to a respected dispenser of traditional medicines extracted from jungle greenery.
Welcome: glimpses of paradise S. Dillon Ripley; Introduction HRH The Prince Philip; Part I. Tending Our Gardens: 1. The benign connection; 2. From the beginning; 3. Old and new; Part II. Global Mosaic: 4. Deserts; 5. Grasslands; 6. Mediterranean shores; 7. Temperate splendor; 8. Tropical rain forests; 9. Wetlands; 10. Green oceans; 11. Fair isles; Part III. Plants For People: 12. Moveable feast; 13. From field to table; 14. Versatile cellulose; 15. Firewood; 16. Chemical cornucopia; 17. Medicine's hidden herbs; 18. Visit to the doctor; Part IV. A Paradise To Save: 19. Enduring impact; 20. Genetic erosion; 21. Underexploited crops; 22. Conservation for production; Part V. A Third Chance: 23. Epilogue: goals for the new century Mrs. Indira Gandhi; Acknowledgments; World conservation strategy; Selected readings; Index; Picture credits.