Carlos Magdalena is not your average horticulturist. He's a man on a mission to save the world's most endangered plants. First captivated by the flora of his native Spain, he has travelled to the remotest parts of the globe in search of exotic species. Renowned for his pioneering work, he has committed his life to protecting plants from man-made ecological destruction and thieves hunting for wealthy collectors.
During the excavation of Herod’s palace at Masada between 1963 and 1965, a pottery jar was unearthed that contained a great many seeds of the Judean date palm, which had been extinct for some eight hundred years ... one sprouted, becoming the oldest seed to have germinated with human assistance and the only living example of this variety of palm. Methuselah...it has been named ... Methuselah’s story is emblematic of the astonishing potential and the excruciating limitations faced by researchers trying to save the world’s rarest plants. Carlos Magdalena is at the forefront of these efforts, and his The Plant Messiah is a gripping account of both his successes and failures ... The work done by Magdalena and others like him is nothing short of miraculous ... And it must be said that for all of Magdalena’s professions of single-minded dedication to saving plants from extinction, he seems to find ample time to follow his other great passion—waterlilies. Whole chapters of The Plant Messiah are devoted to his search for unusual waterlilies and other peripheral matters. The book nevertheless illustrates just how much can be done to save even species that all but the greatest optimist would consider doomed.
...a lively account of [Conniff's] own transformation from bar owner in Spain to Kew horticulturalist in training ... For anyone who might have considered plants dull stuff, Mr. Magdalena delivers a thrilling and inspirational account of adventures in the botanical world.
...for an avowed plant geek it is fascinating to follow Magdalena as he travels from remote Australian billabongs full of rare water lilies to the dry forests of western Peru ... But the greater accomplishment of The Plant Messiah is the compelling case that Magdalena makes from caring about plants in general.