It is difficult to think who, apart from the environmental professional, will get the use out of this book. Clearly Jane Colley does, and clearly I thought I would when I bought it. Trying to use it, however, I found it less successful than other Roger Phillips ID guides. In many cases, especially with the grasses, the diferent species are very similar in appearance. At the same time, the photographs in this book don't seem as clear as in, for example, the wildflower or fungi guides. When photographing grasses, the whole plant is shown; however, even though Phillips has cut the stems and overlapped them in the style of a botanical drawing, with taller grasses this means the distinctive parts, especially the flowering head, are still shown at very small scale. It would have been more useful to have these shown large or in an inset close-up than to see page after page of stems.
We are on firmer ground when it comes to the more primitive plants. Here, the photos do give a better idea of the plant's appearance than the traditional botanical drawing, conveying the filminess and translucence of the finer ferns and liverworts. The lichen photos are also proably about as clear as you could get. What is missing, throughout, is the clear scale seen in the other books. There, the pages have a 1cm circle for scale. Here, laying a ruler next to the specimen, or placing a white 1cm disc in shot, would have made it all so much clearer.
I confess I have no other ID guides on these plant groups for comparison, so this may still be the best on the market. It is a shame the author has failed to go the extra mile and make it perfect.