Plant Messiah
Carlos Magdalena

Book cover image

Narrated By: Roy McMillan

Duration: 8 hours and 3 minutes

What to expect

Penguin Audio presents The Plant Messiah by Carlos Magdalena, read by Roy McMillan.

Carlos Magdalena of Kew Gardens is not your average botanical horticulturist. He's a man on a mission to save the world's most endangered plants from ecological destruction and thieves hunting for wealthy collectors. He is a plant messiah.

From the planet's tiniest waterlily - the Nymphaea thermarum - to Huarango trees with roots over 50 metres long, Carlos has a miraculous ability to bring breathtakingly beautiful plants back from the brink of extinction. He has travelled to the most remote and dangerous parts of the world - from the mountains of Peru to isolated Indian Ocean islands to the deepest Australian outback - in search of the rarest exotic species. Then, back in the Tropical Nursery at Kew, he uses pioneering, left-field techniques to help them propagate and prosper.

Now he's here to spread the gospel. The Plant Messiah is the inspirational story of a man who has devoted - and risked - his life to save incredible species, all in the name of making this Earth a greener and happier place.

Amen to that.


Botany & plant sciences, Popular science, Commercial horticulture, Ecological science, the Biosphere, Conservation of the environment

Listen to a sample

For anyone who might have considered plants dull stuff, Mr. Magdalena delivers a thrilling and inspirational account of adventures in the botanical world.

Wall Street Journal

This full-throttle memoir is a window on the exploits that underpin the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew . . . reveals the rare mix of zeal and patience needed to hunt vanishing plants


Eye-popping... The Plant Messiah reads like a detective novel. [This] is a thrillingly uplifting book. There is a beguiling energy to his prose that clearly he has in person

Daily Mail

An entertaining, planterly romp around the world and a glimpse inside one of the world's great botanical institutions from this Kew botanist

Financial Times

Carlos has been able to achieve things with plants that no one else can do

Richard Barley, director of horticulture, Kew

Carlos Magdalena is Kew's codebreaker


In a world whose ecology is changing so fast, only a special kind of obsessive would concern himself with saving endangered plant species. That's Magdalena... who recounts adventures that have taken him from the Amazon to the jungles of Mauritius on a quest to preserve as much flora as he can.

New York Times Book Review

Botany, on its face, doesn't sound particularly thrilling. This book will change your mind

Bill McKibben, New York Times bestselling author of 'Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet' and 'Radio Free Vermont'

An engaging piece of work

Literary Review

He has the uncanny ability to bring plants back from the brink of extinction

People of London

Impressive, gripping and important . . . Some 30,000 plants have recorded uses for humans. Most people, the messiah preaches, are blind to these everyday miracles. This book will teach them to see


Carlos is an inspiration to me. He's the perfect spokesperson for the plants of the world

Jane Goodall, primatologist and UN Messenger of Peace

[I]t is fascinating to follow Magdalena as he travels from remote Australian billabongs full of rare water lilies to the dry forests of western Peru, where the last gnarled huarango trees grow in the shadow of the Andes. But the greater accomplishment of The Plant Messiah is the compelling case that Magdalena makes from caring about plants in general.