Review: Audrey Eagle, Complete Trees and Shrubs of New Zealand

Audrey’s beautiful two volume botany book was published in 2006 by the Te Papa National Museum to much acclaim. Unfortunately it is not without blemish. Here are 10 reasons I find it frustrating to use.

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1. The illustrations have no scales to help determine size. Many are life size, but there is no way of knowing which ones are not.

2. Illustrations of whole plants are lacking.

3. Botanical families are not well introduced. A couple of sentences on their characteristics would have helped.

4. Genus are not well introduced. For example in regard to distribution it would have been helpful to have small maps as Michael Bayly and Alison Kellow had in their wonderful book on Hebes (now Veronicas).

5. There is far too much blank space. Yes I know it was a design choice, but I think a poor one.

6. Name changes get no explanation. For example Vol I, p366 where Corallospartium simply pops up in the middle of the Carmichaelia.

7. Explanation of Latin names is not well thought out. For example, in Carmichaelia appressa, what part is appressed (lying flat)? On other occasions, the Latin is simply not explained.

8. Historical help is lacking. This is a quibble but something as major as Papilionaceae/Fabaceae should have been flagged.

9. The index is lacking. eg broom doesn’t appear.

10. The tiny point size of the footers for species is very frustrating.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful book, but when I advise budding young botanists I like them to know why it has limitations.

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