Advent Botany returns for 2023 with Botanical Book Gift Ideas for the holiday season

The popular Advent Botany blog series, launched in 2015 by Drs. Alastair Culham and Jonathan Mitchley of the University of Reading, has been on hiatus for the past two years. Correction: In fact, they first launched Advent Botany in 2014. The first post that I ever contributed was about Red Osier Dogwood.

Alastair thought to re-launch the series with reviews of plant-themed books to give people Botanical Book Gift Ideas for the holiday season. Myself and research and teaching collaborator, Dr. Fallon Tanentzap, are here for it!

Discover Day 1 of #AdventBotany2023 which features Mark Honigsbaum's The Fever Trail.

Here goes #AdventBotany 2023 on Day 2 with the first of several reviews by Fallon and I:

Women in Botany (2022) in by Mary Wissinger and Danielle Pioli

Many fabulous books have been written with the goal of tempting children to get excited about science, including botany and plants. A book doesn’t have to be very long to get a young reader fired up.

The book that inspired my love of plants as an eight-year old, was the Ladybird Natural History Book of plants and how they grow. Today, my original copy lives in my lab. This book introduced me to simple experiments, some of which I have even used in undergraduate plant biology labs, and referenced in a 2016 Advent Botany post.

Women in Botany is a 2022 book by Mary Wissinger, and illustrated by Danielle Pioli, that also has the potential to captivate, charm and inspire young minds. Other titles in Wissinger and Pioli’s Science Wide Open series, which is aimed at seven- to ten-year-olds, include Women in Biology, Women in Engineering, and Women in Chemistry. These short, gorgeously illustrated books introduce the young reader to some of the women from around the world, and across the centuries, like Dr. Wangari Maathei, and Dr. Janaki Ammal, who have made important contributions to these STEM fields.

Back cover of Women in Botany

I was thrilled to be asked to “blurb” the Women in Botany book, which asks “Can one seed make a difference? Trek into the colorful field of botany to see how innovative women across the globe have used tiny seeds to do huge things. Along the way, learn all about the plants and the vital ways they help our communities. Young readers will be inspired to think about how their own big ideas can blossom.”

That blurb is one of the coolest things that I have done in my plant biology career: “Children are natural scientists, always asking great questions. This gorgeous book encourages their curiosity and tells some of the forgotten stories of respected women leaders in botany.”

In 2023, Women in Botany was translated to Spanish, along with my blurb. I encourage everyone who has ever been asked about a flower or tree by a child in your orbit, to check out this charming series. It makes a great, affordable gift.


  • Newing, F.E., Bowood, R. Illustrated by Lampitt, R. 1965. Plants and How They Grow. A Ladybird Natural History Book, Series 651. Wills and Hepworth, Loughborough, UK.
  • Wissinger, M. (2022). Women in Botany. Science Wide Open. United States: Science, Naturally! Publishers