Nonsense Botany

The brilliance of Edward Lear’s “Nonsense Botany” (circa 1871-1877) is that it’s only a hair’s breadth from the truth. Created in an age obsessed with plants and their scientific classification, he married the anthropomorphism of plants’ common names with the pomposity of Latin nomenclature, added a twist of the absurd, et voila! Some say these works were a precursor to Dadaism. One of his satires on botanical description describes the Biscuit Tree: “When the flowers fall off, and the tree breaks out in biscuits, the effect is by no means disagreeable, especially to the hungry.” And below, the slideshow starts with a kettle. Tea anyone?

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