Australian Plants online
Index   Back Issues   ANPSA Home

Book Review

Weeds of the South-East: An Identification Guide for Australia
F. J. Richardson, R. G. Richardson and R. C. H. Shepherd

Reviewed by Cherree Densley

Book cover

Just a few days after purchasing this book it was being put to good use down in the saline swamps west of Warrnambool and towards Yambuk.

This is the area where I do plant surveys in about 500 quadrants, identifying and counting plants in the habitat of the Orange Bellied Parrot. These surveys are carried out in summer, autumn, winter and spring - inundation and the depth of the swamp water determining the success and extent of the surveys (we pull the pin when water sloshes over the tops of the gum boots). You never know what plants will come up next sometimes and without good reference books one just can not identify everything. Whilst the majority of plants surveyed are native, the ever increasing invasion of weeds always brings new challenges with identification.

Firstly, the photos in this new book by the team of Fiona, Rob and Ros are just terrific. They manage to make beautiful even the most invasive and nasty weeds! There are plenty of native species illustrated as well but these are the ones which are now difficult to deal with as they rapidly invade places they shouldn't. (The growth of Pittosporum undulatum has become truly explosive throughout many areas just like an invading army conquering new territories.) You will be amazed at just how many of our native plants are becoming naturalised out of their original range - we seem to be rapidly entering a universal pattern of vegetation. Well, the Californians swear that the eucalypts are theirs! And don't forget the many florists and cut flower growers who will argue black and blue that proteas are natives! However, the only members of the Proteaceae family in this book are Grevillea robusta and G. rosmarimfolia, Hakea drupacea, H.laurina and H. sericea all of which are causing problems outside their natural areas.

It will come as quite a surprise to see so many common garden plants photographed and described in this book - such pretty bulbs, annuals, perennials, shrubs, creepers, ornamental grasses, many of which continue to be sold widely by nurseries, markets and swapped by well-meaning gardeners - all of which have become really serious pest plants along roadsides, bush reserves, forests, along sand dunes and wherever they can get a slight hold. Of course, many have huge seed reserves or have invasive roots which allow rapid spreading.

This book starts with a thought-provoking foreword by Daniel Joubert, the President of the Weed Society of Victoria, which leads the reader into a short introduction, acknowledgements, a glossary, references and then straight into the most comprehensive Identification Guide which makes up the bulk of the book. The setting out is attractive and the book ends with a well set-out index. While I have quite a few books now on weed identification, this one is the best so far.

Weeds of the South-East: An Identification Guide for Australia

F. J. Richardson, R. G. Richardson and R. C. H. Shepherd
R. G. and F. J. Richardson, 2007
RRP $69.95
Soft cover, 438 pages, colour illustrations

From 'Growing Australian', the newsletter of the Australian Plants Society (Victoria), June 2008.

Index   Back Issues   ANPSA Home

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