Hawthorne, W.D.; Jongkind, C.C.H. (2006)
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK, 1023 pp.
289 X 235 mm. 2,600 line drawings. 2,600 colour photographs. Hardback
Price: £69.00/ $126.25
A large field guide to all 2200 species of trees, shrubs and lianas known in the forests of Upper Guinea, i.e. Ghana (and the Togo mts), Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Senegal, Guinea Bissau and Gambia. This has been prepared under the ECOSYN project: a collaboration project between Wageningen University (Biosystematics Group & Forest Ecology and Forest Management Group) and the University of Cocody, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, in close partnership with other institutes in Europe and West Africa.
The guide has taken several years of work by four people: the two authors William Hawthorne (Department of Plant Sciences, Oxford University ) and Carel Jongkind (Biosystematics Group, Wageningen University) and the two artists Rosemary Wise (Oxford) and Marjolein Spitteler (Wageningen).
This is a guide to the trees, shrubs and woody climbers that occur in the tropical forests west of Nigeria. It is obviously not a guide of the type that you could conveniently keep in your top pocket whilst working in the field! For serious botanists, any pocketable reference book could only function as an aide-memoire, yet there are many species in these forests that even experienced botanists, ecologists, herbalists and foresters may never have encountered before, and their identification is a weighty matter.
The science of plant naming is traditionally based largely on flowers and fruits. However, during most practical botanical work one is confronted mostly with ‘sterile’ specimens: in other words, plants which are not currently bearing flowers or fruits. In recent years, more attention has been paid to the identification of sterile plants, and this guide strives to facilitate this as far as is practical. Without a guide of this type, the naming of sterile specimens is an extremely long and difficult task.
The information included in this guide is appropriate for identifying plants to the level of accuracy required in biodiversity surveys, definition of medical or food-plants, and conservation or good forest management. Although the book might be carried (in a small rucksack) in the forest, it is likely to be used mostly on a table, in the evenings or during other respites from field work. By providing a reference book that can be used in this way, we hope to help users focus on important details visible only in the field. But, we also expect the book will be used in libraries or herbaria, by reference to herbarium specimens and using field notes written earlier in the forest. This closely interleaved mix of field observation with detailed, more careful desk study of difficult specimens is the normal mode for accurate identification of plants during tropical field work and, incidentally, by far the best way to learn tropical botany. We therefore hope this guide will be used by both professionals and students.