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 . 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.
Journal of the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture 1989
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