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Reviews in this issue cover "How to Know Western Australian Wildflowers - Part 2" by B. J. Grieve, "Grassland Plants of South Eastern Australia" by Neil and Jane Marriott, "Eucalypts of South Australia" by Dean Nicholle and "Gardener’s Companion to Eucalypts" by Ivan Holliday and Geoffrey Watton. Books Diagram

How to Know Western Australian Wildflowers - Part 2
B. J. Grieve

Published by the University of Western Australia Press in association with the Wildflower Society of Western Australia (Inc), 1998

The long awaited part II of the series "How to Know Western Australian Wildflowers" has now been published.

In 1954, the University of Western Australia began publication of this series which became known as "Blackall and Grieve". The aim of the series was to put into the hands of non-specialists the means to identify WA’s fantastic plants. It was not intended to publish a "flora" - a detailed description of the plants - but an illustrated key. It was concise. Often there were 14 to 15 species keyed out on a page. The then recognised 227 species of acacia were dealt with within 24 pages. But because it was so concise there was little description of each plant and users were often unsure whether they had landed in the right place.

The second editions began to appear in 1980. They were in a larger format and much more space was devoted to each species. Not only was there a drawing of the important aspect for the key but also a description of the plant and of its range of occurrence. The user had more grounds to be confident of the identification.

However, the series was incomplete. Some of the most important plants were to be dealt with in Part II. The Wildflower Society of Western Australia donated money to enable inclusion of colour plates in the volume but its completion was greatly delayed.

Early in 1997, the botany department of UWA, the University press and the Wildflower Society met to consider whether publication could be expedited. The outcome was that the Wildflower Society agreed to advance a sum of money to enable publication.

This volume is authored by Prof. Grieve but, unfortunately he passed away a few months before the book was published.

The book is 730 pages of text plus 14 pages of colour plates. It contains illustrated keys to the plants not covered by parts I, III, and VI.

The largest part of this volume is devoted to the legumes: 432 species of Acacia (plus many varieties) are described in some 190 pages. A further 140 pages gives (at last) an updated key to the peas. Other important groups are mulla mullas (Ptilotus), Hibbertia, sundews (Drosera), Boronia and their relatives, milkworts, hopbushes, the hibiscus group, the "stercs" (Kurrajongs and relatives) and Pimelea.

Who should buy this book? Everyone interested in WA plants! The botanical terminology is in most cases made clear by the drawings and most people will be able to "know WA wildflowers".

The book is available from the Wildflower Society of WA at a concessional price to members. Phone (08) 9383 7979, fax (08) 9383 9929.


Grassland Plants of South Eastern Australia
A Field Guide to Grassland and Grassy Woodland Plants of South Eastern Australia
Neil and Jane Marriott

Published by Bloomings Books, "The Stables", 21 Isabella Grove, Hawthorn, Vic, 3122, 1997.

Our natural environment has been severely degraded and depleted, nowhere more so than in the lowland grasslands of South Eastern Australia where, of the original 2 million hectares, less than 0.5% or 10,000 ha remains. Grassy woodland communities are also severely depleted, particularly of their original rich understorey species.

Remnants of these ecosystems have important biodiversity values and contain large numbers of rare or endangered plant species. The urgency of promoting, protecting and properly managing these precious remnants is reflected in the development of revegetation programmes and by the research being undertaken into aspects of grassland management.

This field guide, featuring plants commonly found across the grassland and grassy woodland communities in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, has been produced to enable land managers, government agencies, students and enthusiasts to identify a wide range of grassland ground flora; grasses, lilies, daisies, etc. Of the 170 species of plants illustrated and described, there are 20 species of grasses and other plants which have previously received little attention. Miniature plants are also featured, many plants attaining a height of less than 10 cm.

A page is devoted to each plant, with a clear colour photo followed by notes describing habit, leaves, flowers and fruits. The plant's distribution, conservation status and a helpful "similar species" section all contribute to the likelihood of a positive identification. There is a glossary, a key to pronunciation of botanical names and a common name index.

The book is small enough to carry in the field, with excellent photographs that capture the key features of the plant and succinct descriptions to confirm identifications. With over 120 genera represented in the 170 species listed and over 100 additional "similar species", a wide range of users who are interested in learning more about the diverse grassy understorey plants will find this a valuable and attractive reference.

Special Offer for SGAP members:

Send cheque for $22 for autographed copy post free (within Australia)

Send to: N & J Marriott, Box 107, Stawell, Victoria, 3380.


Eucalypts of South Australia
Dean Nicholle

Published by Dean Nicholle, Morphett Vale, South Australia, 1997.
Soft Cover, 208 pages; $AUS20 plus postage


Gardener’s Companion to Eucalypts; 2nd Ed Rev
Ivan Holliday & Geoffrey Watton

Published by Lansdowne, The Rocks, NSW, 1997.
Soft Cover, 303 pages; $AUS25

Reviewed by Tony Cavanagh

In many ways, these books are similar - both are intended as field guides, both sets of authors have elected to show each eucalypt species as the full sized tree or large shrub along with illustrations of flowers, fruits, buds and leaves, and both books are intended for the interested amateur. Ivan Holliday and Geoffrey Watton are both well known writers on Australian plants while Dean Nicholle has been described as a "noted eucalyptologist" and grower of eucalypts in SA, being the owner/curator of the Currency Creek Arboretum, a specialist eucalypt research centre where over 750 eucalypt species are in cultivation.

The illustrations are mostly of high quality, Nicholle's being especially good for close-ups of buds, fruits and bark. The text is adequate and informative, covering a description of the plant, details of its range and habitat, comparisons with similar species and cultivation and use of information. Nicholle has arranged his species (95 for SA) in taxonomic order so that closely related and therefore similar species are placed on adjacent pages, allowing easy comparison. Holliday and Watton have selected 140 species from an estimated over 800 and arranged them in alphabetical order. They have also included general illustrations of the main categories of eucalypt leaf shapes and flowers and fruits and have constructed a simple, artificial key for their species which they have arranged in eight groups under obvious identifiable features e.g. "trees with smooth white or pale grey bark". Both contain a glossary of terms and indexes of common or scientific names.

My only criticisms concern the complete lack of a bibliography in Nicholle’s and the dated nature of some of Holliday and Watton’s references e.g. John Brock’s Top End Native Plants (1988) was republished in 1993 as Native Plants of Northern Australia but this was not listed. Nor is any reference made in either book to the Flora of Australia treatment of eucalypts 1 volume 19, 1988 although Holliday and Watton do briefly discuss the recent break-up by Johnson and Hill into Eucalyptus and Corymbia. In a genus (?genera) where there is still so much confusion, I believe that it is important that readers should be able to follow up on the latest information if they wish to.

These criticisms aside, I recommend both books. Their prices are reasonable and both are very usable and well illustrated field guides to a difficult group of plants.

Reprinted from the June 1998 issue of the newsletter of the Victorian Region of SGAP.

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Australian Plants online - September 1998
The Society for Growing Australian Plants