Australian Plants online
Index   Back Issues   ANPSA Home

Book Review

Australia's Mangroves
Norm Duke

Book cover

Australia's Mangroves is the authoritative guidebook to the mangrove plants found in Australian coastal waters - covering all 'mangrove' States and Territories. Mangroves are a common coastal habitat occupying more than 18% of the Australian coastline. The book helps demystify this often misunderstood habitat, showing the diversity and special attributes of plants and animals that live there, plus the many benefits and services they provide.

The book is designed to be practical and easily portable with over 500 colour photographs, supplemented with clearly illustrated keys including the 'wheel', an innovative water-proof field key. There are also detailed botanical descriptions, distribution maps, and flowering/fruiting charts.


  • Includes a water-proof identification key for field use
  • Descriptions of the 41 Australian species
  • Illustrated keys for easy identification, plus full distribution maps
  • More than 500 colour photo graphs
  • State and Territory sections with local specialist contributions

This book is well presented with a systematic layout and many colour illustrations. The taxonomy is up to date and the keys make mangrove identification much easier than it has ever been.

The first 61 pages introduce us to mangroves, their diversity, adaptations, origins, use and importance. I found some of the information here a tad superfluous, such as listing mangrove flower colours and bark types, but I guess those sections are aimed at the younger reader.

The second part looks at man-groves in the states and territories of Australia. These chapters give an overview of mangrove diversity and distribution at a state level.

The third part is dedicated to species identification and description. The keys are well designed and mostly, easy to use. The descriptions cover preferred estuarine location, distribution, appearance, derivation of the nomenclature, form, foliage and dispersal propagule. Each species has a "species feature" illustrated which will help expedite identification in most cases.

The included water-proof field key is a great idea. Printed on a plastic disc, it is compact enough to fit in a (large) shirt pocket and hold enough information to identify all 41 Australian mangroves.

A couple of issues to be aware of with this publication:

  • The book houses numerous errors from spelling to pagination, though most are obvious and will not lead to serious problems.
  • The taxonomy does not fully agree with that of the Queensland Herbarium.
  • The book is ring bound and some care must be exercised when turning pages to avoid damage
  • The price $50-55, a bit expensive in my opinion.

Australia's Mangroves

Norm Duke
University of Queensland and Norman C Duke, 2006
RRP $55.00
Hardback, spiral-bound, 200 pages, 225 mm x 155 mm, colour illustrations and waterproof identification key for field use

From the Newsletter of the Cairns Branch of the Society for Growing Australian Plants, November 2007, via the newsletter of SGAP's Queensland Region).

Index   Back Issues   ANPSA Home

Australian Plants online - 2008
Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants