It is a pleasure for me to write this review of this new privately-published book. Firstly, however, I must say that David made me aware of its preparation about five years ago and I have seen many parts of it going together, as it progressed. I know the work that has gone into it, and the dedication required to complete it.
David is a talented artist from northern New South Wales, who in the 1990s fell madly in love with the Araucaria and their striking beauty of form. This became an obsession, and he set out to travel the world to photograph and sketch them in their natural forest habitat. From Brazil to New Guinea, Chile to New Caledonia, David trudged up mountains to discover, sketch, and begin to know species after species of Araucaria. This was the preparation for a conservation-oriented exhibition of prints of Araucaria he was intending to undertake.
In the meantime, he decided to write a booklet which would explain and enhance the exhibition. The same obsession that took him across the ‘Gondwanan’ globe spurred on a new vision an Araucaria monograph, no less. If I mention some of the credits and thank-yous David gives by name, it will give an idea of the scope of his research. David Jarzen (palynologist, Canada), Osia Gideon (forester, New Guinea), Rusty Russell (Smithsonian Institute), Ken Hill (Wollemi Pine specialist, RBG Sydney), Geoffrey Clarke (Dept of Geology, Sydney University), Bernard Suprin (botanist, New Caledonia).
So the ‘booklet’ grew to 180 pages.
What do we have in the book? Well, it expanded to cover all the Araucariaceae, that is Araucaria, Agathis and the Wollemia. We have a pretty good time-scale of the evolution of the Araucaria and their present day distribution. There is a brief description of many contemporary species and the story of their discovery , This we would expect, but to me what makes this book so different is David’s own input. His description of his visits to the forests where he found his Araucaria is just enthralling. I have been lucky enough to have been to the Araucaria forests in Chile and New Caledonia. David’s words bring back the beauty and excitement to me. For others, it really should inspire everyone to get up and GO! His description of his visit to the Montagne des Sources to find Araucaria muelleri (named for ‘the Baron’) and A. humboldtensis is just terrific. As an icing to all this literary cake, the book has a whole set of reproductions of David’s own art prints. Bunya Pine cones, Araucaria hunsteinii, the Araucaria columnaris groves which some of Captain Cook’s crew thought were basalt columns. As the man in the advert says ‘You want more?’ There are Araucaria distribution maps and even a bibliography.
Undoubtedly, there are some factual errors in this book, but not that many, I feel. As for the subject matter, as David said ‘it is my book’! Knowing the resources available, it becomes hard to make a criticism, but the contents really do deserve a better presentation. The definition in the original drawings is much, much better than the resulting images in this book show. And the maps could be more legible and, I hate the expression, a little more professional in appearance.
David took it upon himself to print privately a first run of 40 copies which of course, are all sold! But he is planning a reprint. Write to him at David McKinnes-King, PO Rock Valley, NSW 2480 to enquire or place an order. The price will be $40 plus postage ($5 in Australia).
A note: John Hawker
The following book has recently been published on the Wollemi Pine and will be of interest to members. In a review by Barry Dowling in the Weekend Australian 56 August 2000, the book gives an account of the discovery by David Noble in 1994, the classification of a new species, and poses many questions surrounding the Pine, including why is there no DNA difference between the individual trees, as well as legal and political problems.
I'm sure we are all eagerly awaiting for the PLANT!, but we will have to do with the book in the meantime.
Available from: The Australian Books Direct Tel: 1300
Mail: Collins Booksellers, 121 Bay Street, Broadway, NSW 2007
Cost: $24.05 per book + $6.50 postage
[Editor's note: If members would like to forward any book reviews, we will publish them. I look forward to your contributions!]
|Pinus halepensis||Pinus patula||Pinus ponderosa||Pinus wallichiana|
Reviewed by Roger Spencer
I cannot summarise this book better than its abstract. This monograph of 291 pages is a revision of the 47 pines native to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. The introduction covers all aspects of pines that are of interest to both taxonomists and more general readers, and includes specialist contributions on wood anatomy, pollen morphology and taxonomy based on monoterpenes.
This is a definitive book by the worlds leading conifer specialist and the late Brian Styles. The introduction to pine taxonomy is a must for any serious pine buff.
Reviewed by Alistair Watt
In 1996 we saw the publication of the well-illustrated two volume set Conifers by Van Gelderen and Van Hoey Smith. At that time, I considered that this was a useful contribution at the least to conifer literature, but certainly the virtual lack of descriptive text did not place it, in my view, in the standard of Dallimore and Jackson for example.
This new book by Hubertus Nimsch, that I have just received, goes a long way to filling the gap. The version I have is an English language edition and is superbly produced containing both line drawings and colour photographs by the author. In contrast to Conifers, a very large number of the photos are of the species growing in the wild. It is relevant to state that this book essentially deals in detail with conifer genera and although individual species are taken as examples, it is not yet the replacement for Dallimore and Jackson. However, on the big plus side, at last we in Australia have a work that begins to cover the tropical and sub-tropical conifers that have, to a large extent, been ignored by virtually all the other cool-temperate climate orientated books. We see descriptions and photos of the interesting newer species such as Dacrydium guillauminii, Agathis dammara, Araucaria muelleri, Neocallitropsis pancheri etc. as well as novelties such as Dacrydium fonkii. With reference to the title, this book also covers Cycads, Ephedras, Welwitschia etc. in a concise and interesting way.
On the debit side, it is disappointing to see that the author has chosen not to use accepted up-to-date nomenclature e.g. Halocarpus, Lagarostrobus, Retrophyllwn, Sundacarpus etc., but in botany, of course, that can be allowed.
Without hesitation, I recommend members chase this book down, although I anticipate it will only be available from specialised stockists. I recommend you try Andrew Isles in Greville Street, Prahran, Melbourne, phone 03 9510 5750, fax 03 9529 1256. He is at present trying to get a price on it, but I believe that as with most American productions, it will be reasonable the pathetic state of our dollar not withstanding!
Reviewed by Michael Frankis
This Flora of North America covers the plants found in Canada and the United States of America, but does not include Mexico or Central America. Coverage is comprehensive for native species, with each species an average of a quarter to a half page of text detailing morphology and distribution. Every species has a small distribution map, but only selected species in each genus are illustrated with line-drawings. A very few exotics are also included, primarily those extensively naturalised like Pinus sylvestris but also one (Ginkgo biloba) which is widely cultivated but not or only very rarely naturalised. One Australian conifer naturalised in Florida is included, Callitris glaucophylla. Each family and genus also has an introduction with keys to the included genera and species. The ordering and classification of the families and genera follows the most recent evidence, including the submergence of Taxodiaceae in Cupressaceae for which acceptance is becoming wider. Selected references are given at the ends of each generic account, and after many individual species as well. Each genus has been authored separately, and inevitably the content varies according to the author. Some are very good, while others, notably Pinus, are much poorer.
Abies, compiled by R.S. Hunt, a long-time authority on silver firs, is the only genus in which readers may find any unfamiliar names. Hunt found distinct differences between coastal and inland populations of Abies lasiocarpa, and separates the inland trees as a distinct species Abies bifolia A. Murray. Also split off is the White Fir of the Sierra Nevada, usually treated as Abies concolor var. lowiana, but here a distinct species Abies lowiana. He demonstrates good grounds for treating these taxa as more than varieties; in other parts of the world, they might be given subspecies status, but this rank is not often used by American botanists and appears to have been actively discouraged by the editors of the Flora.
Tsuga and Picea are both by R.J. Taylor, who like Hunt has published several important papers on his genera. Both are covered well, though I noted a few minor inaccuracies in some of the tree and cone size data. Picea sitchensis is given a maximum height of 80 m, though trees to 96 m tall are known, while P. engelmannii is given a maximum of 60 m yet the tallest individual I can find published data for is 55 m. Tsuga heterophylla is given only 50 m, where most other texts give 7075 m as the maximum. Cones of Picea breweriana are stated to reach a maximum 12 cm, yet can be up to 14.5 cm. Similar small discrepancies were noted for a few species in other genera as well.
Pinus receives the poorest treatment of any of the genera. It is written by R. Kral, a name I had never heard of and who has no published conifer taxonomic work cited in Farjons A Bibliography of Conifers. He cursorily dismisses or does not even mention several recently described yet very well founded taxa, notably among the pinyons. He also does not appear to understand the tenet in the International Code for Botanical Nomenclature that subspecies is a higher rank than variety, giving the large differences in Pinus contorta recognition only at varietal rank, while giving the very small differences between the two populations of Pinus torreyana subspecific rank.
Cupressus, by Eckenwalder, also receives a very conservative treatment, with among others the familiar name Cupressus glabra synonymised completely with C. arizonica, not even accepted at varietal rank (C. arizonica var. glabra) as is often now done. However, unlike Kral, Eckenwalder explains his reasons (that he found its supposedly differing characters were not constant), which by many will be considered good and correct. The remaining large genus, Juniperus, is by the acknowledged world expert on the genus, R.P. Adams, so is as might be expected authoritative for this difficult group. The numerous small genera, by several authors, are all reasonable to good and uncontentious.
Keys are given for all genera with two or more taxa. Like the texts, they vary according to the author; some are easy to use with that for Picea perhaps the best among the larger genera, while that for Pinus includes (lead 28) the inexcusable cop-out Pines of eastern North America/Pines of western North America. This makes it unusable not only for anyone dealing with cultivated or naturalised plants, but also anywhere where trees might possibly be planted or naturalisedincluding all managed forestsin effect all trees outside of National Parks and nature reserves and perhaps even some in these. Some of the keys also seem to assume that you carry a powerful microscope and portable laboratory wherever you go, citing differences in resin canal position or pollen size, though these are given as supplementary characters rather than the only way to identify a species.
The editing and proof-reading has been done well, and it is refreshing to see an American text using international metric measurements rather than archaic feet and inches. It is also pleasantly free of misprints or other similar errors. I found only one mis-citation of a name, for Juniperus virginiana var. silicicola, cited as (Small) E. Murray, Kalmia 13: 8, 1983. Murrays combination is a subspecies, not a variety; the correct citation at varietal rank is (Small) Silba, Phytologia Memoirs 7: 37, 1984. The vernacular name Scots Pine for Pinus sylvestris is also mis-spelled as Scotch, thereby making it a whisky, not a tree!
I have not read this book but am merely drawing it to readers attention as I am not aware of any books specially devoted to conifer diseases. Here it might be worth noting that conifer disease in Australia is certainly on the increase. We have a large population of aging planted trees now (100150 years) for the first time in the history of Australia. With old age comes susceptibility to infection and we seem to be entering a phase of vulnerability for both conifers and broadleaves at present.
FLORA OF SOUTH-EASTERN AUSTRALIA. VOLUME 1. FERNS, CONIFERS AND THEIR ALLIES by Roger
This is a publication that members of The Conifer Society of Australia have been waiting for and will become one of the most valued books to the conifer enthusiast. Roger Spencer is well known to many members of the Conifer Society, and is a founding member and has been responsible for editing the Newsletter.
Roger is the Horticultural Botanist at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, and has been accumulating information on the cultivated flora of south-eastern Australia for over 15 years. The identification of many plants is made difficult because there is no comprehensive publication in Australia, as there is for Europe and America. Many of our cultivated plants are not listed in overseas publications.
For the first time in Australia the problem of plant identification has been tackled by the publication of the Horticultural flora of south-eastern Australia. This four volume series will appear over the next two to three years and provides the means to identify garden plants, both native and exotic, and gives their common name, history and cultivation. Volume 1 was released late last year and covers ferns, conifers and their allies.
The publication is well laid out, giving useful explanatory information on the use of plant keys, and descriptions, definitions and illustrations of botanical terms and family characteristics. For those unfamiliar with plant keys, the excellent illustrations and descriptions will greatly assist with plant species and cultivar identification. Use of the book does not require specialist botanic or taxonomic skills. A total of 16 colour plates are included showing ferns, cultivars, plant characteristics and a vast array of conifer cones, especially pine cones, and is valuable for identifying the species.
The publication also includes helpful appendices on the classification of ferns, cycads and conifers, location of notable collections, society addresses, Australian raised cultivar list and a glossary, which includes many conifer terms. An extensive bibliography is provided and the index includes both botanical and common names.
The book provides descriptions on cultivated plants in south-eastern Australia extending through the temperate zones of South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales and into southern Queensland, around Toowoomba. The location of outstanding specimens for the species and cultivars being described is given and includes height measurements. This information is obtained from State significant tree registers, botanic gardens and field surveys by the author and horticulturists, and should be of great value to anyone wishing to see exceptional specimens.
To assist in the identification, illustrations by botanical artists Anita Barley and Su Pearson are provided for the majority of the species. The descriptions provide old botanical names which may be seen in earlier publications, or are still in use. These name changes are clarified and some which will be of interest include Chinese abor vitae (Platycladus orientalis, previously Thuja orientalis), funeral cypress, (Chamaecyparis funebris, previously Cupressus funebris), and Corsican pine (Pinus nigra var. corsicana, previously Pinus nigra var. maritima (or Pinus laricio in old catalogues)), a group of plants often found in old parks and gardens.
This publication is highly recommended and will prove to be a valuable addition to your library. Horticultural flora of south-eastern Australia Volume 1 is recommended to owners and managers of parks and gardens, the nursery industry, landscape architects, dendrologists, conifer enthusiasts and those with an interest in our horticultural heritage.
Volume 2, which was published in 1997 included many commonly grown plants such as violets, anemones, cacti, rhododendrons, and camellia, as well as the following widely grown trees, elm, magnolia, linden, she-oak, fig, poplars and willow. Volume 3 will include roses, hydrangea, pelargonium, maple and many of our native plants, including eucalyptus, banksia and grevilleas. Volume 4 will include all the monocots, grasses, bulbs and palms.
Copies of Horticultural flora of south-eastern Australia Volume 1 are available from the Bookroom at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne either directly or by post ($10 to cover package and posting). Members of The Conifer Society are entitled to a 10% discount.
Here we have the first ever Australian continent-wide compendium of information on gymnosperms. This work is all the more valuable because this particular volume, in the huge Flora series of over 60 volumes dedicated to Australias plants, follows the example of recent volumes in having explanatory chapters setting out current knowledge on important related topics.
In the latter part of volume 48, following the ferns, we are treated to a succinct chapter by Ken Hill outlining the history of gymnosperm classification. This is followed by the story of the Australian gymnosperm fossil record by Professor Robert Hill and Leonie Striven, then the fossil record of Australian cycads by Robert Hill followed by the formal botanical treatment of native and naturalised conifers. The two Hills are to be congratulated on their contribution to our knowledge over the last decade.
The botanical account includes the Wollemi Pine, Wollemia nobilis, and quite a large number of conifers that have, unfortunately, become naturalised especially around pine plantations. Small items of interest include: the mention of Athrotaxis laxifolia in an excluded names section it seems that, to be technically correct, we can only refer to these hybrids using a hybrid formula at present; there is still no formal taxonomic recognition of the huge podocarps on the Errinundra Plateaux (they remain P. lawrencei); Callitris verrucosa and C. preissii are recognised as separated species as also are C. columellaris and C. glaucophylla.
For Australian gymnosperms this is, of course, the definitive account.
This is an extensive list of technical references combined with a formal botanical world checklist of all species. Produced by the worlds foremost conifer expert this provides the best listing of conifers since John Silbas International Census of the Coniferae and its supplement produced in 1984 and 1990.
This substantial tome might not be everyones cup-of-tea but as a formal botanical listing by family and a comprehensive bibliography of technical literature the skeleton of basic technical information on conifers is now firmly in place and up-to-date.
The World Checklist and Bibliography of Conifers, includes over 4000 validly published names (c. 800 accepted taxa in 69 genera) with generic and species level synonymy, species distribution summaries, habitat, conservation status and synonym indexes. The data were assembled and formatted by the BRAHMS Reporter, then exported to MS Word for final editing. The checklist is now being used as a taxonomic framework for the genus by genus entry of data from conifer specimens mainly from those held at Kew but also from representative specimens held at other herbaria.
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