Field of Science

A New Botanical Heroine

Rarely do female botanists appear as characters in pop culture. Exceptions that I can think of are Poison Ivy from the Batman comics and movies. She was a botanist before becoming a plant-loving super villain. Also there was the horrible movie Paycheck that featured a female botanist as the love interest. This movie sticks in my mind because the portrayal of her 'botany lab' was completely fantastical and laughable.

In comparison, I have much higher hopes for the botanical heroine in Elizabeth Gilbert's new novel The Signature of All Things. Not only is the heroine a botanist, but she is a bryologist! I have heard good things about the book both through reviews in the popular media and fellow bryologists. Fortunately for me I have great friends that indulge my passion for mosses and I was gifted this book for my upcoming birthday. I will keep you posted on my reading progress and any bryological gems that I find!

For more about the book, check out Barbara Kingsolver's review in the New York Times.


  1. Will look forward to your updates about this book. Don't forget that Dr Grace Augustine in Avatar was a botanist and "Wrote the book on Pandoran Botany" :)

    1. Thanks Tim! I knew there were other and better botanical heroines I was missing. I only saw Avatar once and it was overseas with english subtitles. Your reminder has me thinking that I need to watch it again!

  2. Also, the love interest/baddie introduced in the 2nd to last season of Dexter. She specialized in...wait for it...poisoning those she didn't like with exotic toxic plants she grew in her greenhouse.

    1. In that vein have you seen Amy Stewart's book Wicked Plants? It is a really interesting book. It is amazing how many protective and thus potentially dangerous chemicals plants produce! I tend toward botany for good, but like reading about the darker side for education and information purposes. Thanks for sharing a botanical villain!


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