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Works by L. F. Costermans


Common Knowledge




I always feel rather guilty writing a review on what (effectively) is a text-reference book because I hardly ever read a text book cover to cover. And this book is no exception. It is really a reference book about trees and shrubs where you can look up something that has caught one's attention and identify it. (Mainly for the sheer cussed satisfaction of being able to put a name to something......but also, maybe, to find out a bit more about its habitat, uses (if any) and the various forms of it that might be around). But I must admit that I've found this particular book quite fascinating. It's now pretty old ...last added to in 1998 but the material doesn't date rapidly ....except systems of nomenclature and I've found it really interesting. One of the things I found fascinating was the satellite view of South eastern Australia (vertical scale enhanced) but it shows a perspective on this part of Australia that I've never had though I've lived here for most of my life. I was curious about the way they would divide the regions up but they seem to have done it in a really sensible and workable way: eg taller forests and moist valleys; the semi-arid inland etc. And when I looked for overlapping species ...yes there were a few but not many so their regions seem to work at the practical level. There is also an excellent set of colour photos to help with identification of species though only about four out of six are illustrated. However, each species has black and white drawings with distinguishing features.
I found the short "essays" on the various regions to be packed with interesting information...often including some details about the geology of the region as well as commentary about the species found there. I was reading the special section on wattles when I learned something new. I was under the assumption that the juvenile leaf form (in many of the wattles) was actually a phyllode but the reverse is the situation ....well in most cases. Though I have the impression that with black wattle, the first formed leaves are "entire" (like phyllodes and the mature leaves are pinnate. ( I must be wrong but I'll check it out....I live next to "Blackwattle Bay"). ...I've done a bit of research and think my confusion is due to the fact that the phyllode (a flattened photosynthetic stem) can be lower down on the tree and propagating bi-pinnate leaves at the end of the phyllode. And my erroneous assumption was that the juvenile leaves would be lower down on the stem whereas "juvenile" in this instance are actually the older (bi-pinnate) leaves. though many of the more obvious wattles such as Cootamundra wattle, Blackwattle, Green wattle, only seem to retain the pinnate leave form. Usually to identify species one needs a Botanical key which is laid out in a bifurcating manner (eg hairs in axils present ...hairs in axils absent) but this book is much more user friendly and does it mainly by regions and by illustrations of leaves, fruiting bodies etc. .....and it seems to work satisfactorily.
Must say, that I really like the book and have enjoyed browsing through mentioned at the start, I have not read it from cover to cover. Five stars from me.
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booktsunami | Jun 11, 2024 |



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