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A Good Read

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Reviews in this issue cover Australian Ferns by Calder Chaffey, Victoria's Box-Ironbark Country: A Field Guide by the Victorian National Parks Association and A Photographic Guide to Wildflowers of Outback Australia by Denise Greig.
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Australian Ferns - Growing Them Successfully
Calder Chaffey

Published by Simon and Schuster Australia, 1999
256 pages, hardback, full colour illustrations, descriptions

Reviewed by Irene Cullen

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Anyone wishing to identify ferns or fern allies, naturally turns to a botanical reference book. This can be a daunting task to all - excepting those with a fair botanical knowledge. In this new Field Guide - the author Calder Chaffey has used a simplified approach to fern identification. His identification is based on leaf shape and sori distribution.

The guide is simple to use. A full description of each fern is not given. Instead he has divided the ferns into twenty groups. Each group consists of ferns of similar leaf shape. Thus there may be several genera in the one group, while another may only have one.

Accompanying each group there are clear line drawings of leaf shape and sori distribution. There is also a very extensive glossary and illustration of each part of a fern frond. All clearly named.

The book is light enough to carry on field trips. The only accompaniment needed is a xlO hand lens.

This Volume consists of 260 species which grow south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Volume 2, soon to be published will consist of 352 species (144 species overlap).

The book has been economically produced - without sacrificing either quality or content.

Reprinted from SGAP Queensland's Bulletin, December 2002.

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Victoria's Box-Ironbark Country - A Field Guide
Malcolm Calder, Jane Calder and I McCann

Published by Victorian National Parks Association, 2002.
Soft cover, 120 pages, over 235 colour plates, 10 line drawings, 7 maps.

Reviewed by Neil Marriott

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This is an indispensable book for all interested in our wonderful Box-Ironbark region of Victoria. That it also has pictures of plant species that occur in other communities makes it worth buying if you wish to also identify many plants in the Wimmera, the mallee or the grasslands, grassy woodlands and dry forests of Victoria. However beware, if like me you think that this is a new book, it is not - merely a revised edition of "The Forgotten Forests" first published in 1994.

However, it is appropriate to republish at this time, following the wonderful outcome for our Box-Ironbark forests in the Victorian Parliament late last year. As a result of that decision by our parliamentarians, I guess they are no longer the "forgotten forests" hence the name change for the book. Another reason to republish is due to the numerous plant name changes since the first edition - this alone makes it worthwhile buying the revised edition.

A team effort by many supporters and workers for the VNPA, there are major contributions by Malcolm and Jane Calder, while the bulk of the book depicts the superb photos of the Ian McCann collection.

From an original area of over one million hectares there is now only around 17% remaining, most of which has been logged, mined and grazed for over 150 years. As a result there are many rare and endangered plant and animal species dependent on these remnants. A new feature of this edition is the inclusion of distribution maps of five significant Box-Ironbark animal species.

The section on Ecology and Natural History of Box-Ironbarks is excellent, while Barry Train's picture of a vast firewood stack in Melbourne harvested from these forests says a thousand words. The chapter on human impact is disturbing.The next section goes through the ecological communities found in the forests - I was surprised that no attempt had been made to incorporate the latest and universally adopted Ecological Vegetation Class method of identifying the various communities.

Clear colour plates of many Box-Ironbark plants make up the majority of the book, and most are excellent - only a handful have been poorly reproduced, although once again the colour rendition of a number leaves a bit to be desired. This is by no way due to the photos, but to the printing.

The Victorian National Parks Association deserves our support and thanks - due to their long and untiring efforts we now have a wonderful series of Box-Ironbark National Parks and reserves across the state.

I highly recommend this great book. Buy a copy for yourself and one for a friend.

Reproduced from Growing Australian, newsletter of the Australian Plants Society (Victoria), March 2003.

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A Photographic Guide to Wildflowers of Outback Australia
Denise Greig

Published by New Holland Publishers
144 pages, colour photographs

Reviewed by Cherree Densley

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This is a compact, easy-to-use guide to 240 common species of wildflowers most likely seen growing within the regularly visited areas of outback Australia (5 mainland states and northern Victoria).

The pocket-sized book has a great format using thumbnail symbols for 33 family groups. These symbols appear on the top-right comer of each page. Each page has two beautiful, clear photos with authoritative text describing the plants featured. The additional feature, which I would think is most useful, is a little line drawing of the leaf of the species being described. (In the case of the eucalypts and saltbushes, the fruiting bodies are drawn and in the case of the grasses, the flowering seed head).

The family groupings are refered to by their common names, which makes it very easy to use by everyone. Denise's photographs are superb and this is another wonderful book to add to her prodigous achievements in photographing and writing about Australian plants. I would think that if you are intending to do some outback travelling, this book would be almost invaluable.

Reproduced from Growing Australian, newsletter of the Australian Plants Society (Victoria), March 2003.


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Australian Plants online - June 2003
Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants