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Wild Flowers of Britain and Ireland: A New Guide to Our Wild Flowers Paperback – 30 Jun 2003

4.1 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 482 pages
  • Publisher: A & C Black Publishers Ltd; 2003 Printing edition (30 Jun. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713659440
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713659443
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 21.6 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 122,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

About the Author

Majorie Blamey:
Before becoming one of the leading botanical illustrators in Europe she was in turn a photographer, actress, wartime Red Cross nurse and ambulance driver, and with her husband Philip ran a Cornish dairy farm for 20 years. They sold the farm in 1968 to make field botany and painting a new career.

Richard Fitter:
The most successful writer of natural history field guides in Europe. He has a lifetime of field experience.

Alastair Fitter:
Alastair drew the maps. He is Richard's younger son, and Professor of Biology at the University of York. In September 2003 he will become President of the British Ecological Society.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Sample from the book:
Cranesbills Geranium. All except Shining Cranesbill (p. 176), conspicuously hairy or downy. Flowers 5-petalled, divided below by size. Distinguished from storksbills (p. 178) by their toothed and palmately lobed leaves, usually deeply cut to more than half-way. Fruit with five segments curling upwards from the base when ripe and ending in a long pointed beak, the ‘crane’s bill’. Only the most frequent of the 15 or more naturalised species and hybrids are described below, divided into large, medium, and small flowers (p. 176).

Flowers large, 20mm or more across
1 Meadow Cranesbill. Geranium pratense. A most handsome medium/tall perennial, stems long-hairy, often reddish, to 1m. Flowers a soft violet blue, petals not notched, 25- 30mm; June-Sept. Leaves 7-9-lobed, cut almost to base. Fruit stalks bent down when ripe.
Grassland on lime, mainly in the lowlands, especially the Cotswold road verges. Numerous cultivars, hybrids and similar species are liable to escape, the most frequent being 1a Purple Cranesbill G. o magnificum, whose slightly larger, more purplish flowers have
notched petals; leaves less deeply cut.
2 Wood Cranesbill Geranium sylvaticum. Much like Meadow Cranesbill (1), near which it may grow in N England, but has rather smaller, mauver and less blue flowers, the petals sometimes slightly notched; June-August; stems to 75cm, leaves less deeply cut and fruit stalks erect when ripe. Open woods, hedge-banks, upland meadows, moors, mountain
3 Bloody Cranesbill Geranium sanguineum. A showy, clump-forming short perennial, to 40cm. Flowers bright red-purple (sometimes pink on Walney I, Cumbria), 25-30mm; May-August. Leaves small, 5-7-lobed, narrowly and sharply cut. Dry grassland, dunes,
rocks, mainly on limy soils; also a widespread garden escape.
4 French Cranesbill Geranium endressii. Short/medium perennial, to 60cm. Flowers
deep salmon-pink, the veins darkening as they fade, 24-28mm; May-August. Leaves broadly 5-lobed. A frequent garden escape. Its hybrid with Pencilled Cranesbill (5), G. o oxonianum, is very similar, with flowers deep to pale pink, the veins often conspicuous,
and no ripe fruits; may be commoner than French Cranesbill.
5 Pencilled Cranesbill Geranium versicolor is quite distinct from both French Cranesbill (4) and the hybrid (as well as all other native or escaped cranesbills), having flowers white or very pale lilac, with purple veins; leaves less deeply cut.Aless frequent garden escape.

Flowers medium, 10-20mm across
6 Herb Robert Geranium robertianum. A strong-smelling short/medium hairy annual, with stems often reddish, to 50cm. Flowers clear deep pink, occasionally white, petals not notched, pollen orange; 14-18mm; Apr-Nov. Leaves 3/5-lobed. Fruits slightly ridged. Woods, hedge- and other banks, shingle (when may be prostrate and hairless), mountain screes.
7 Little Robin Geranium purpureum. Often taller and greener than Herb Robert (6), of which it may be a subspecies, with smaller (7-14mm) flowers, yellow pollen, more narrowly cut leaves and more conspicuously ridged fruits. Dry, often limy banks, shingle (when often prostrate) and cliffs by the sea.

Petals deeply notched:
Hedgerow, Dovesfoot, Small-flowered, Cut-leaved
shallowly notched:
Purple, Wood, Bloody, French, Pencilled, Round-leaved,
Long-stalked, not notched:
Meadow, Wood, Herb Robert, Little Robin, Shining,
Round-leaved, Long-stalked

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Not quite pocket-sized, but no bigger than most modern field guides, this might well be the standard illustrated guide for amateurs to the British and Irish flowering plant flora. The guide covers all naturally occurring species plus a large number of naturalised plants. As pointed out below, botanical experience will make the use of the book easier, since there is no general key allowing the user to identify families. However, I wonder how many beginners would really be prepared to spend the time passing each new plant through such a key. For those who can roughly identify a new plant to family and beyond, handy keys ARE provided for the larger groups.

The format is very similar to the "Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe" by the same authors, published by Collins. However, all the illustrations are new and improved. The previous guide's plates were often blurred or otherwise lacking in definition, a problem that does not occur here. A further improvement is the provision of maps that are small enough not to include for the majority of species yet large enough to allow for a fair amount of detail.

The section on grasses is new and particularly useful, truly enabling the user to identify all the flowering plants in the region.

The only other competitor would be Rose's "Wildflower Key" which I have in a 1981 edition, having not seen the current 2006 issue. All in all, the present guide is superior.
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Format: Paperback
The first thing to say about this book is that contrary to what the previous reviewer said, this book does have keys. The whole book is a key. For example, all the bright yellow dandelion-like flowers are grouped together over about 3 pages; all the pea family is grouped together with the addition of a sub-key to narrow down the search (EG single flowers, group of flowers in tight heads etc.). The key that it is missing is a vegetative key for plants not in flower. However this is balanced by the inclusion of sections for common trees, ferns, grasses (inc sedges and rushes), clubmosses and aquatic plants.
All of these sections are illustrated brilliantly by Blamey. For example the grass section with its easy to follow key and all the grass flowers laid out in painstaking detail has made grass ID a far more pleasurable experience than it ever was using Hubbard. And for those people who think that illustrations are second best to a photograph think again. They make the illustrations in books like the Wildflower Key (Rose) look flat and lifeless and yet contain not of the distracting background that characterises many photographs. They manage to capture the vitality of each plant without obscuring detail.
Having used this book in the field several times I find that I always use this book when I know which family a particular flower belongs to. For those plants that I am unfamiliar with or that are not in flower I use the keys in Rose and then look the answer up in this book.
All in all this is a fantastic book for anyone who is not an absolute beginner (if really helps if you can recognise the plant families) and the only reason it does not get 5 stars is the lack of a vegetative key. If they were to revise it and include one then it would be perfect and I would certainly buy another.
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By A Customer on 22 Sept. 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
to the collection. It's best described as a new version of the earlier Collins guide (same authors), but with two critical differences: there are now NO keys whatever, but there ARE thumbnail distribution maps. The illustrations are superb: a quick comparison with the Collins guide and Rose's 'Wild Flower Key' shows that this guide is probably the best, but not in every case.
If you're happy to take out something like Stace's (baby) Field Flora to use alongside, this book is brilliant as the lack of keys is irrelevant. But really, I feel that for a book of this size (it's really too big and heavy for a pocket), there should be more info - especially keys.
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Format: Paperback
Having used and often relied on a much older version of this classic I was almost reluctant to buy the updated book. Very often updates lose the appeal, qualities and attributes which made them...well, a classic in the first place, as opposed to just a good book. I was so pleased to find that this new print is fabulous. Slightly larger sized, (but still easy to fit into rucksac and jacket pockets) the quality of illustration is great and of course it has all the up to date reclassifications! I could say lots of things, but to make this a quick review (some people do go on!!), I would thoroughly recommend this to ANYONE interested in identifying plants, whether beginner, or more advanced! Like I said, a true classic. You won;t regret having this as a fab ID and reference book.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this after my ancient Collins hardback Fitter/Blamey guide fell to bits. The illustrations by Blamey are absolutely beautiful and the book contains a wealth of absorbing information. However I do sometimes struggle to identify an unfamiliar species using this book alone, particularly if the plant I am trying to identify is one of several very similar species, and I have to resort to the Collins 'Complete British Wild Flowers' photoguide instead. I'm told that 'serious botanists' have a tendency to prefer illustrated guides to photoguides, because a good illustration is more likely to depict a 'typical' plant; but useful as this book is, I feel a photoguide would be a more practical place for a complete beginner to start.

One other thing to bear in mind with this book is that it is not the most up to date. The Collins photoguides are reviewed and revised every couple of years or so, but this has not been updated since 2003. This can have an impact on the location of plant species and even the Latin names being out of date. For example the book refers to the common twayblade as listera ovata when more recent research has re-classified it as neottia ovata.
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