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Book Review

Eremophila and Allied Genera - R J Chinnock

Reviewed by Colin Jennings

Book cover

Dr Bob Chinnock has spent an inordinate amount of time, since arriving from New Zealand, researching the family Myoporaceae. I recall meeting him at the 'old' herbarium building in 1974, soon after arriving back from my two years teaching spell in Papua New Guinea. At that time I would not have known what an Eremophila was. Some twenty years later that was to change and since then it has been my pleasure and privilege to have worked with him and to have learnt so much about the family.

This volume is one of Bob's 'life-works' and it is a great credit to his rigorous, academic approach to the subject. After many years of 'promises' the work is finally published. I am certain that it will fill a gaping hole in the written information available to lovers of eremophilas and to those who seek to have a book to which they can turn to identify their plants, to know of their habitats and their inter-relationships via the generic key.

The photographic reproduction is of extremely high quality and the line illustrations by Gilbert Dashorst and Ludwik Dutkiewicz are, as always, precise, accurate and presented in the finest of detail.

Whilst it is an academic treatment of the family, it is also a very readable book for those who simply appreciate our native flora, and especially eremophilas. The genus Eremophila has become very popular and amenable to our gardens; as a result there has been a need for a complete treatment and this publication more than adequately satisfies that need.

Rosenberg Publishers have produced an excellent book. The quality of the photographs is superb and the presentation of the text is well-structured. Readers will be able to refer to the index and locate almost any item related to the family Myoporaceae.

The contents include:

  • An Introduction to the Myoporaceae, followed by the History of Myoporaceae.
  • Morphology and Anatomy are an essential to any complete study of plants and the treatment is excellent.
  • A most valuable feature in the identification of Eremophila species is the Trichomes, seven pages are devoted, with line illustrations, to this character.
  • Floral and Fruit Morphology are equally well presented, with photographic as well as line illustrations being used to emphasise the feature.
  • Whilst not of great appeal to the average grower, Palynology (pollen study) is of significant academic value.
  • Cytology and Cytogeography are briefly, but succinctly presented. Cytology, genetic study, is a very valuable tool in the determination of sections within genera and the presentation is integral to the book.
  • Reproductive Biology is presented in eleven pages: well illustrated by photographs and line drawings which will prove of value to the hobbyist and the academic alike.
  • The Family Myoporaceae has a distribution outside Australia: the section on Distribution and Ecology has excellent tables and illustrations to emphasise these important aspects of the study.
  • Two pages are devoted to the Phytochemistry and Toxicity.
  • A brief treatment is given to Traditional and Economic Uses.
  • The treatment of Horticultural Uses is brief, but deals with the well-known use of the family in gardens generally.
  • The Phytogeny and Relationships of the Myoporaceae deals in a very readable manner with the 'reasons' for the separation of the family into genera and the genera into sections.
  • The remainder, and for most lovers of eremophilas, the Taxonomic Treatment, is what we have all been waiting for. Keys are not for everyone, but those used in the book are concise, easy to follow and for those wishing to utilize them in the identification of a species, 'user-friendly'.

Many growers will simply turn pages to locate the picture of the flower which most closely relates to their specimen. They will not be disappointed: the photography is superbly presented, accurate in colour and more than adequate to show the flower and foliage; and in many cases the habitat.

Each species and subspecies, where applicable, is given a geographic treatment, identifying general locations where they have been found in situ. Colour photographs, some of plants, others representing the ecology of the species, are used for each species described. Distribution maps also provide the reader with additional information. Added to this, identification can be further made by reference to the many excellent line illustrations.

A very valuable feature of this book is the number of previously undescribed species represented, now with published names. We in the Eremophila Study Group have had the advantage of the assistance of Bob in our work, and as a result we have had access to so many manuscript names for many years - finally we can validly use them.

For those who experience difficulty with botanical terminology there is a comprehensive glossary.

In summary, this book is a superb publication: the result of long and dedicated research by Dr Bob Chinnock. The publishers, Rosenberg Publishing Pty Ltd, have produced a most valuable work, and are to be congratulated for their foresight in taking on this project and presenting it at a cost that is both reasonable and excellent value for money. The presentation is all that one could desire.

Eremophila and Allied Genera

R J Chinnock
Rosenberg Publishing Pty Ltd, Kenthurst NSW, 2007.
RRP $99.95
Hardcover, 704 pages, 335 colour plates, 300 maps, 325 line illustrations

From the newsletter of the Australian Plants Society (South Australia), May 2007.

Colin Jennings is leader of ASGAP's Eremophila Study Group

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Australian Plants online - 2007
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