Books on the Natural History of British Flora

A library for botanists…

The Natural History of British Flora

OK, so I may not know the name, but I can have a good grasp on the why-

Beyond a simple Field Guide, important that they are, an understanding of why plants are where they are, why they aren’t there, why they are the dominant plant, why they flourish or wither, why prostrate or stunted, any of these queries and more. That is truly asking the right questions. That is where a decent book on the natural history of plants can make time in the outdoors all the more enjoyable.

Plant Communities

Plant Communities was the fourth in a series of nature hardbacks released by Penguin in June 1978, it is a translation of an original Danish publication- Plantesamfund, published in 1977. The last in the series, number 13, was published in 1980

One simple and very accessible introduction to plant communities and their habitat is the Penguin Nature Guide- Plant Communities. The basics of soil and weather conditions and how these two are intimately linked with the plants to be found in any habitat, are explained in a series of short chapters. The whole book can be read in an hour or two and no walk would be the same afterward as a result. As an example of how authoritative this book is, it was edited and adapted by Francis Rose.

Peter Marren has served on the Nature Conservancy Council in various capacities and joined Plantlife’s advisory council in 1997. He has authored many scientific papers and books and made a personal study of rare plants and their world. His book Britain’s Rare Flowers was the first to provide both an accessible account of their conservation and an explanation as to why they are actually rare.

Plant Life and English Nature sponsored the writing of Britain's Rare Flowers. While authorative, it is written in an easy and accessible style. The author includes many personal anecdotes that both illuminate the story and engage the reader

Plant Life and English Nature sponsored the writing of Britain’s Rare Flowers. While authoritative, it is written in an easy and accessible style. The author includes many personal anecdotes that both illuminate the story and engage the reader

So, to finish off with a heavyweight from my bookshelves. Tipping my scales at 2348g, this is a both heavy in weight and in content. I have a number of books by Richard Mabey- Food for Free (1972), The Roadside Wildlife Book (1974), Street Flowers (1976) and Plants with a Purpose (1977) have all made my walks in the countryside more informed and have frequently provided interest out of the barest patch of vegetation. But with Flora Britannica, Richard Mabey has produced a quite amazing piece of work, to give over to an extract from the dust cover blurb, with which I cannot argue:

“It covers the native and naturalised plants of England, Scotland and Wales, and, while full of fascinating history, is topical and modern. Indeed, Flora Britannica is the definitive contemporary flora, an encyclopaedia of living folklore, a register- a sort of Domesday Book- for the end of the twentieth century”

A page from Flora Britannica. I defy anyone to not find such detail fascinating

A page from Flora Britannica. I defy anyone to not find such detail fascinating

 

Books in featured image:

Plant Communities, a Pengin Nature Guide, Anne Bülow-Olsen, Illustrated: by Susanne Larsen. Penguin Books Ltd. 1978. ISBN 0 14 063004 X

Britain’s Rare Flowers, Peter Marren. T & A D Poyser, 1999. ISBN 0 85661 114 X

Flora Britannica, Richard Mabey. Sinclair Stevenson, 1996. ISBN 1 85619 377 2

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