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Reviews Written by
Mrs. C. L. O'reilly "Clare O'Reilly" (Durham, UK)

Page: 1
by Mark Ridley
Edition: Paperback
Price: 44.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clear but needs some updating, 6 Jan 2012
This review is from: Evolution (Paperback)
This textbook is exceptionally clear well written and easy to understand even for someone without a biology degree. It has the best introductory text on population genetics that I have found. It does focus on zoology rather than human evolutionary biology (as noted by other reviewers) which I preferred as biology as studied in many universities is getting far too anthropocentric. The plant science content is rather sparse despite the third edition claiming to have been augmented by additional botanical examples; the first edition must have had hardly any plant content at all then. Second there is no mention of reticulate evolution or critque of the biological species concept as applied to for example, plants and bacteria, which is a major omission. It is controversial but several statements suggest the author is a zoologist wedded to the orthodoxy of the BSC; although the third edition was 2004, so perhaps the fourth is underway and will include this. The evolutionary significance of hybridisation should at least be discussed as biologists are increasingly accepting this modification to the modern synthesis. I was also, as a plant taxonomist, appalled that, re infraspecific ranks, "biologists are skeptical about their utility" ; "over 99.9% of specimens can be fitted into recognised species" (anyone who has tried to do plant taxonomy would differ here) and "different species form relatively discrete genetic (and usually phenetic) units; subspecific units do not". Read zoologists for biologists here as this is not true in botany and It is really annoying when plants are swept aside like this - undergraduates deserve a more rounded account.
But overall this is an excellent book.

Vegetative Key to Wild Flowers
Vegetative Key to Wild Flowers
by Francis Rose
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Misleading description - this book is actually the Wild Flower Key!, 26 April 2009
I am concerned that booksellers are misleading people - the vegetative keys in Francis Roses's 1981 book entitled the 'Wild Flower Key' (the book title is NOT 'The vegetative key'!!!) are only c.50 pages and way out of date - there has been a second edition published in 2006 but the vegetative keys were deliberately NOT updated; plus the vegetative keys are by habitat and only cover about 200 species or so (Although I've not counted them!).

If you want a comprehensive British vegetative key, to c.3000 species, then you need the new book by John Poland and Eric Clement, A Vegetative Key to the British Flora, due out in May 2009.

People looking for this new book may buy the Francis Rose book by mistake. I hope the booksellers, who are obviosuly trying to cash in on the demand now that the Vegetative Key has been advertised, are decent enough to update their book titles - by all means mention that the keys include a vegetative key, but anyone in the know will know that this is a very limited key compared to the new one!


The Wild Flower Key (Revised Edition) - How to identify wild plants, trees and shrubs in Britain and Ireland
The Wild Flower Key (Revised Edition) - How to identify wild plants, trees and shrubs in Britain and Ireland
by Francis Rose
Edition: Paperback
Price: 17.00

124 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How this edition differs from the old edition, 24 Nov 2006
The second edition of this classsic guide has been long coming: in 25 years since the book was published, many people are surprised to learn that there have been many changes to our knowledge of wild plants.

Many features used in identification have been shown to be inaccurate. Scientific names have changed. Many non-native species have become relatively widespread.

This second edition does differ dramatically from the first, but it's all in the detail:

1. there are over 100 new line drawings of diagnostic parts of plants;

2. there are 150 new colour plant portraits;

3. over a third of the genera keys have been re-written as many did not work!

4. national referees (i.e. top experts) have written keys for difficult groups such as willowherbs and water-starworts;

5. there are completely new keys, which did not appear in the old edition e.g. to fine-leaved mayweeds;

6. the new introduction is twice as long, with much additional information to assist beginners;

7. the new glossary is three times as long, packed with new line illustrations;

8. there are new features to assist those working in conservation, such as marking plants as BAP species and with their protected species and/or red list status;

9. there is a compilation of the lastest research on ancient woodland indicator species;

10. the new edition includes extra identification tips, from the new author's experience and from specialist publications like Plant Crib, not published in any other field guide.

This book is not really a competitor with the Fitter and Blamey books, as suggested by reviews here - it goes beyond just 'picture matching' and is the only book to bridge the gap between picture guides and non-illustrated, academic floras. Plus I have to say, the illustrations in the latest Fitter and Blamey book (2003) are mostly dreadful! There are many errors, sometimes just a bit misleading (e.g. meadow buttercup lower leaf) to unidentifiable blobs (e.g. purslane) to pictures of completely the wrong plant (e.g. narrow-leaved ragwort (it should have linear leaves!!)

In case anyone thinks I am biased as author of the new edition, please note that I revised the book because I got fed up with teaching using the old, out of date edition, and I do not get royalties!
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