Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Review: A Field Guide to Surreal Botany
Title: "A Field Guide to Surreal Botany"
Edited by: Jason Erik Lundgren and Janet Chui
Publisher: Two Cranes Press
Format: Paperback, 76 pp
A Field Guide to Surreal Botany is an illustrated guide to 48 species of surreal plant from all corners of the globe. The guide is organised by geographic region which will prove useful for quick look up purposes. A few of the species are said to have a worldwide distribution, no doubt reflecting the pervasive influence of communication networks on the distribution of invasive species.
The guide is beautifully illustrated by Janet Chui whose paintings manage to capture the often very rare or difficult to photograph plants described in the guide. Each plant is given at least a page with a detailed description of plant appearance, ecology and life cycle. There are also in depth notes to accompany each plant which are frequently very engaging. The text layout is clear without too many unnecessary flourishes (on which count the editors are to be congratulated). The text is notably well written and often includes information on the discovery of the plant or cultural references.
Surreal plants form a diverse grouping, often providing considerable personal dangers or observational challenges to the botanist. This guide outlines some of the potential risks, or the best opportunities for getting a glimpse of these "outlier" species, much enhancing the guide's utility.
"A Field Guide to Surreal Botany" is an invaluable resource for botanists, restoration ecologists, and all plant enthusiasts. The editors are to be applauded on bringing together such a diverse and fascinating collection of material. The guide would make an ideal present and an indispensable addition to any botanist's collecting bag.
Thanks to I.M. Gontorseede of Wiffly-in-the-Wold for this review.