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Book Review

Tree Ferns - Mark Large and John Braggins

Reviewed by Barry White

Book cover

This hard cover book of 360 pages is a comprehensive cover of tree ferns throughout the world. It is written in an easy style with a useful glossary and bibliography.

The early sections of the book deal with the habitat, distribution, evolution, conservation and ethnobotany of tree ferns. The chapter on cultivation and propagation deals with aspects of temperature, light, soils, vegetative and sexual reproduction, diseases and pests.

The great bulk of the book deals with individual species. As well as the two main genera of Cyathea and Dicksonia, the book also covers Cibotium, Sadleria, Todea and a number of other species which develop small trunks. The authors also include Calochlaena dubia, one of our native Victorian ground ferns, but acknowledge that it can only be marginally regarded as a tree fern.

A brief description covering the main characteristics is given for each species.

  • There is a key to the genera of tree ferns but no key to the species, and the book is of limited use in identifying an unknown species.
  • The middle section of the book contains 60 pages of coloured photographs illustrating an interesting range of tree fern types, anatomical details, fossils and tree fern artefacts.
  • Appendix 1 provides information on tree ferns the authors describe as requiring more study.
  • Appendix 2 supplies lists of tree ferns by geographical regions.
  • Appendix 3 contains information on tree ferns for gardens with an indication of height and climatic suitability.

Overall this is a book which will appeal to the tree fern enthusiast and persons seeking general information about growing and propagating tree ferns.

* * * * * *

The authors are New Zealanders based in Auckland. Mark Large is an associate professor of botany, and John Braggins taught botany at Auckland University for 30 years.

Tree Ferns

Mark Large and John Braggins
CSIRO, 2004
RRP $59.95
Hardcover, 360 pages, colour photographs.

From Growing Australian, the newsletter of the Australian Plants Society (Victoria), September 2004.

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