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The new cactus lexicon by David Hunt

The new cactus lexicon

by David Hunt

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An impressive two volume set, this is a serious publication published under the auspices of the International Cactaceae Systematics Group; one volume is devoted to the Text, the other entitled Atlas to the illustrations. (Volume I 375 pp, Volume II 526 pp; 11.25” x 8.5” hardbound; with over 2,200 colour illustrations)

The Text provides detailed plant descriptions in botanical terms. Following Part I, which is basically an explanatory Introduction and which includes a Selected Bibliography, Part II comprises the bulk of the volume: the Catalogue of Taxa. Here each genus has a brief general introduction including typical appearance and distribution, followed by descriptions of the individual species each of which is allotted two or three short paragraphs: first with the name, source and distribution data; the second the description; and the third any relevant comments. The descriptions also include details of synonyms and illegal names. There are several Appendices: Recognized Taxa and their principal Synonyms, Naturally-occurring Hybrids, Unreferred Taxa; Conservation Assessments and finally Names in Current Usage.

The second and larger volume entitled the Atlas, following a few brief explanatory notes, comprises entirely of the photographic illustrations; it concludes with an Index of Illustrations. The photographs are superb; there are 515 pages of them and generally there between four and six photographs per page. The majority of the plants are shown in their natural habitat, and while this often means that the plants shown are in size way beyond what any grower might hope to achieve, it is however most informative to see how theses plants grow in their natural state. Not only does this give an indication of the sort of terrain the plants grown in, but also of what other plants grow alongside; it is also interesting to see occasionally how a plant appears to grow virtually buried in the soil.

This is not a publication for the casual gardener so if you are looking for a book which tells you what plants to choose and how to grow them this is not for you, but for the serious collector it is extremely informative. My only complaint is that I am now faced with the task of re-labelling a large number of my plants; amongst other changes I find that the genus Lobivia no longer exists; all the species having been relocated under either Echinopsis or Rebutia! Seriously, it is hard to fault; it does exactly what is says on the label, and it does so with great clarity and economy; a marvellous two volume set. ( )
  presto | Apr 24, 2012 |
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