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Book Review

Australian Succulent Plants: An Introduction - Attila Kapitany

Reviewed by Cherree Densley

Book cover

Congratulations are in order to Attila for the production of this absolutely beautiful book.

It covers a group of plants that, until now, have been very much neglected by most growers of Australian plants. Attila's wife Michele has taken most of the photographs in the book and these are among the very best photographs I have seen of any plants. Michele and Attila must have travelled thousands and thousands of kilometres over a number of years in some pretty remote places to find, photograph and document the plants in the book.

From my plant stalls at local markets it is obvious that the demand for drought tolerant plants is on a sharp increase. People now want water smart gardens - it has been forced on them through water restrictions but, as well, many are realising the beauty and diversity of succulents. And if the plant in question is an Australian native succulent, then to my mind, these plants have it all - tough and beautiful. I'm not sure how many native succulents I grow - but there are lots.

'Succulent' plants possess water storage tissue either in their leaves, stems, trunks or roots and thus if you accept that definition (there is conjecture as to what plants are considered succulent) then the range is truly diverse. Some one hundred species from 40 genera. The plants are arranged in sections: Ground plants, such as bulbine lilies, calandrinias (soooooooooo stunning), Carpobrotus, Disphyma, Tetragonia; Rock and Tree dwellers (Crassula, dendrobiums, hoyas), and then Shrubs such as maireanas and Plectranthus and Trees (Adansonia, Bombax, Brachychiton).

The other fascinating areas covered are animal associations. I regularly do work for Greening Australia where I study the plants of the salt marshes; these studies are funded to protect the habitat of the Orange Bellied Parrot which feed on many of the succulent plants in this rare plant community and the sight of huge areas of the beaded glasswort in full glorious red is unforgettable. Edible succulent plants, naturalised and weedy succulents, cultivation, new discoveries, conservation, where to buy succulent plants, places of interest are also included in the book, as well as an enormous listing of reference books.

This stunning book is well set out, extremely colourful and inspirational. The captions on the photographs are informative and clear. The production of this book is a first for this contemporary group of native plants.

Australian Succulent Plants - An Introduction

Attila Kapitany
Kapitany Concepts, 2007.
RRP $75.00
Hardcover, 240 pages, colour illustrations

From 'Growing Australian', the newsletter of the Australian Plants Society (Victoria), December 2007.

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