Welcome to the Jungle by Enid Offolter

Houseplants are enjoying a lot of popularity right now, boosted by the COVID shutdown when everyone was spending more time at home and the push for healthier indoor environment. This also means a lot of books about houseplants have come out recently (many of which you’ll find on our shelves!) and while they all have great information on choosing and caring for your plant babies, here’s one that stands out – Welcome to the Jungle by Enid Offolter.

While there’s lots of good basic information here, Offolter is talking to the enthusiast, those of us already hooked and ready to try something a little more challenging. And Offolter delivers, covering aroids (a family of tropical plants with incredible foliage) in “50 Extraordinary Plants”. Some have gorgeous variegated leaves, some have crazy shapes and fenstrations (holes and splits in the leaves). Many have become fairly easy to find (I have seen Anthirium “Polly” plants for sale at Hy-Vee and the big box stores and Wallace’s sells a variety of anthiriums, philodendron and monsteras. But many of the plants covered in Welcome to the Jungle are rare (and incredibly expensive) so poring over the gorgeous photography in this book will be the closest most of us will come to them.

The real highlight of this book though, is the writing. Offolter does not mince words about how she feels and it’s usually pretty amusing. Here’s her take on A. warocqueanum, also know as “the queen” (it has gorgeous long, dark green leaves with white veining) – “Tricky, high maintenance, sadistic diva of a plant that does its best to make you cry. Needy, temperamental and will spontaneously die, just when you thought you had it all figured out.”  Or her description of removing baby iguanas from the plants in her South Florida shade house “They are lucky they are so cute. I give them a firm talking to on the way out of my shade house. I view it as a teaching moment for them.”  The writing alone makes this a delight!

Highly recommended whether you’re already addicted to these tropical beauties or just enjoy learning about plants.