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CD Review

Supplement to Native Trees and Shrubs of South-eastern Australia - Leon Costermans

Reviewed by Ern Perkins

CD cover

Leon Costermans' Native Trees and Shrubs of South-eastern Australia is an outstanding publication.

I always take it when I travel in South-eastern Australia. It is the best, most comprehensive and easily used identification book available for plants a metre or more high. The book was first published in 1981, and reprinted in 1983 with minor additions. In the 25 years since then, there have been many changes to plant names. New species have been discovered and others are now considered to comprise two or more separate species. Many of these variable species were included in the original edition as variants.

Updating the book to include all of the changes would be a challenging task. It would have taken many years, by which time there would be more changes to be included. The book would also need to be much larger, and more expensive.

Leon has met these challenges by producing a supplement on computer disk. The supplement includes an index of species covered in the book, notes on the changes, and high quality photographs.

The disk has three copies of the supplement - a screen version with medium resolution photographs, a screen version with high resolution photographs, and a version designed for printing. The disk can be read from the CD drive, or can be copied to the computer's hard drive. Except for slow computers with limited memory, the high resolution version is the most useful.

Additional photographs add greatly to the cost of a book. However, on a CD, photographs do not incur any extra cost. Advantage of this has been made. In addition to the plants covered in the book, there are many additional plants included, including some common plants that do not usually grow to a metre.

The sections of the CD include:

  • Copyright conditions, including permission to copy the CD to no more than two personal computers, so that the CD can be copied to both your desktop computer and your laptop.
  • An index to all species in the supplement. The index gives links to the relevant pages and photographs, so that references and photos can be viewed by clicking on the index entries.
  • An alphabetical listing, with descriptions and links to the old and new species.
  • A list with descriptions of new species, species with name changes, and some additional species. The place where the original description of the new species was published is also given, which is useful for those wishing to get further information.
  • Photographs.
  • Maps, references, including links to useful web sites, and a list of botanical authors.

The CD uses Adobe Acrobat Reader. The CD also includes an introduction, again in PDF format. As usual, I started to use the supplement without reading the introduction. Later, I found that time spent in reading the introduction, and becoming familiar with the features of the Acrobat Reader, made the CD even more useful.

The high-resolution photographs are an important feature. The photographs can be enlarged to 1600% and still show detail, a feature that is not possible with a book illustration. The enlargements enable key identification features to be seen.

The CD can be used in several ways. On a lap-top, it can be taken into the field. On a home computer, identifications and name changes can be checked on return from an outing or from a nursery. Alternatively, the changes given on the CD can be used to annotate the book copy, or the contents can be printed and inserted into the book.

The CD would be useful even without the book. The information about recent name changes would be difficult to obtain elsewhere, and the photographs could help check plant identification. However, it is best used for its intended purpose, as a supplement to the book.

The CD is being distributed by the National Parks Association. It is highly recommended to anyone who already has a copy of the book, and for anyone interested in identifying or growing native plants.

Supplement to Native Trees and Shrubs of South-eastern Australia

Leon Costermans, Victorian National Parks Assocation, 2006.
RRP $25.00 including postage in Australia
Photographs, map, name changes, species list

From Growing Australian, the newsletter of the Victorian Region of the Australian Plants Society, September 2006.

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Australian Plants online - 2006
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