Double Flowers the sixteenth century, there were numerous double-flowered plants in cultivation in Europe. Doubtless, there were flowers with extra petals long before these writers made their comments. Just why human beings find double flowers interesting and worth recording is, in itself, interesting. Michael Pollan in The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World (2001) has suggested that plants rely not only on animals and insects but also on humans in order to ensure their reproduction and dispersal. He proposes that humans instinctively find blossom attractive because it indicates where fruit will be found at a later season. If indeed we are drawn to petals, then perhaps we cannot help but notice flowers that are superabundant either in petals or in structures that look like petals. Perversely, however, these many-petalled blooms do not produce more than usually large quantities of fruit; rather the reverse. But, fortunately, flowers with extra petals are sufficiently rare in the wild to ensure that our hunter-gatherer forebears did not go hungry. We may or may not be instinctively drawn to petals and, perhaps, to a superabundance of petals, but other aspects of human nature very probably play a part in our interest in double flowers. One important factor must be our propensity to categorize and systematize information, whether that information is postal addresses or library books or, indeed, plants. Interestingly, the process of categorizing and systematizing seems, in itself, to foster observant behaviour. The comparing and contrasting involved in categorizing any body of information makes details that, in the past, might have been overlooked suddenly appear conspicuous; it also throws anomalies and irregularities, such as extra petals, into relief. It is much easier to compare and contrast and to spot oddities, including double flowers, when plants are conveniently to hand and seen nearly every day in the growing season. By the time substantial records of double flowers existed, in the sixteenth century, numerous plants had been brought into gardens either from the surrounding countryside or from further afield. Not surprisingly, many of the double flowers of early record were mutated forms of useful plants (and a remarkably wide range of plants was regarded as domestically or medicinally useful in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe and North America). But some mutant plants will have been discovered in the wild and cultivated primarily for their aesthetic or curiosity value.