_Plant_ by Janet Marinelli - DK

Lee Poulsen wpoulsen@pacbell.net
Sat, 12 Apr 2008 22:59:10 PDT
I just bought a book called _Plant_ edited by Janet Marinelli from the 
bargain book table at a local Borders Bookstore for $9.99. It is a DK 
Book (Dorling Kindersley) so it is full of photos on every page, ISBN 
0-7566-0589-X, U.S. edition published in 2005.

It is in the same large format kind of style as _Flora_, _Botanica_, or 
the AHS A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants, but is only about half the 
thickness of these others and with a far smaller total number of plants 
illustrated, about 2,000 vs. 10,000-20,000 in some of those others. 
However, because of this, the photos tend to be much larger. Also, 
instead of being alphabetical for all the plants, it is divided into 
plant groups (trees/shrubs, conifers, herbaceous plants, climbers, 
bulbous plants, grasses/bamboos, alpines, ferns, cacti/succulents, 
palms/cycads, orchids/bromeliads, carnivorous plants, invasive plants) 
and listed alphabetically within each division.

Unusually, sometimes a listing is of a single species, and sometimes it 
is of a genus, often but not always with several individual species 
called out separately under the genus name. Also, unlike the books 
mentioned above, each species or genus always has information on how to 
cultivate it.

So why am I writing about it?

I almost ignored it since it was in the bargain books table and looked 
just like one of those other, larger, general plant books only not as 
comprehensive. I decided to flip through it rapidly anyway and noted 
that it had a section on bulbous plants. So I flipped to that section 
and the first page I opened to had a larger than lifesize full color 
photo of Griffinia liboniana with a half page article on Griffinia! So I 
slowly flipped through the bulbous section and found articles on: 
Babiana stricta, Brodiaea californica, Brunsvigia litoralis, Caliphruria 
subedentata, Calochortus, Clinanthus variegatus, Colchicun corsicum, 
Cyrtanthus, Daubenya aurea, Eucrosia mirabilis, Ismene amancaes, 
Leucocoryne purpurea, Moraea, Pamianthe peruviana, Petronymphe decora, 
Paramongaia weberbaeri, Rhodophiala , Phycella, Tecophilaea cyanocrocus, 
Worsleya rayneri, and Zephyranthes simpsonii, along with two-page 
articles on Crocus, Tulipa, Lilium and other more common genera but with 
photos only of more unusual species in these and other genera. (For 
example, for Hippeastrum there are only photos of H. reticulatum, H. 
papilio, and H. calyptratum; no hybrids.)

So I had to rapidly flip (I was with friends and only happened to glance 
at this book at first) to another section and saw Bomarea, Canarina 
canariensis, Clianthus puniceus, Lapageria rosea, and Strongylodon 
macrobotrys. So I bought it.

It turns out that the book is about rare or endangered plant species of 
every type and every article begins with a notation on the Red List 
status of that species or genus and how many species are listed. Not all 
are on the endangered list, but it seems the authors picked all the most 
interesting or unusual species in that category. So even though it 
*only* has 2,000 species listed, they are almost all ones that are just 
amazing or unusual or *desirable* from around the world. And it 
definitely has an emphasis on the idea that one way to save these plants 
is for gardeners to grow them. However, none of this is apparent from 
the front or back cover. (Front: "The ultimate visual reference to 
plants and flowers of the world." Back: "A spectacular A--Z survey of 
the world's plants from a gardener's perspective") In fact, I'd have to 
say the covers are completely misleading (and since I have _Flora_ and 
_Botanica_) I very nearly ignored it after looking at the cover text. It 
also has great stories about some of the rarest plants including ones no 
longer living in the wild and ones where all known plants in the world 
are clones of a single species and in some cases a single gender, and 
seems up-to-date on a couple of species I checked on (Deppea splendens 
and Cosmos atrosanguineus), so I assume it's got good information on all 
the other species it lists that I know nothing about. And the photos are 
typically wonderful DK style photos (if you like the DK style, which I 
happen to really like).

One of the best surprise finds I've made in quite a while and the price 
can't be beat. (Original price $50.00 in the USA, $70.00 in Canada--my 
how things have changed in 3 short years...!) I don't imagine anyone 
knows how good it is. So they're probably available all over this 
country. Don't know about other countries.

--Lee Poulsen
Pasadena, California, USDA Zone 10a

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