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Forest Vines to Snow TussocksBOOK REVIEWS

Forest Vines to Snow Tussocks
The Story of New Zealand Plants

By John Dawson
Published by Victoria University Press, New Zealand, 1988

Reviewed by Rob Lucas

Over 80% of the plant species native to New Zealand occur nowhere else in the world. Much of our lowland forest has a structure unique amongst temperate zone forest communities. Many of our native trees and shrubs have a peculiar, densely interlacing growth form which is rare in plants elsewhere in the world.

This book celebrates the unique nature of our native flora, its structure, composition, evolution and affinities with plants of other countries. The author, John Dawson, is eminently qualified to write on this subject having spent most of his working life studying and teaching the botany of the New Zealand flora at Victoria University, Wellington.

Probably as a consequence of the author's many years teaching, the book is clearly written and easy to follow. Technical terms are kept to a minimum. The text is freely illustrated with black and white photographs which at best, are superb, and, at least, are adequate to the task.

As horticulturists we surely need no reminders of the effects our society has had on the New Zealand landscape and flora. In fact, much of our work attempts to ameliorate the destruction and disfigurement which commonly occurs. The better we understand our native plants and their needs, the more successful our efforts are likely to be.

So this is a particularly important book for horticulturists because it gives us much new information about many of the plants we use. It will help us understand our unique plants better and in so doing, promote wider and more effective use of native plants. It should be read by all horticulturists involved with native plants, all horticulture and botany students and in fact all those who revere our floral heritage.

John Dawson retired this year [1989]. He can be assured that this book will find an audience far beyond that of his previous academic works. The man and the book deserve no less.

Annual Journal of the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture 1989 16: 40

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