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Native Plant Book Reviews

In recent years there’s been increased interest in native plants. Here are some books dealing with various aspects of the subject.

The University Press of Kentucky Press has published several books on wildflowers. “Rare Wildflowers of Kentucky” is by Thomas G. Barnes et al. The large format does justice to the 220 lush color photos by Barnes, an award-winning photographer and naturalist. Many of these plants are also found in neighboring states.

Featuring over 270 species, this book devotes a section to each type of habitat. These include wetlands, forests, prairies and glades, and along rivers. The authors provide an in-depth background to the subject and explain about the natural plant communities, why plants are disappearing, and why they need protection.

For each habitat, this has lists, descriptions, and details for each of the plants that are found there. This book has a list of all the rare and extinct plants in the state.

“Chasing Wildflowers-A Mad Search for Wild Gardens” by Scott Calhoun was published by Rio Nuevo Publishers. It is a must-have, particularly for those planning wildflower pilgrimages. In this volume, Calhoun shares his passion for wildflowers and his travels throughout the western U.S. and neighboring Mexico. Calhoun provides all the details on how he traveled, what he saw, and so on. He gives practical travel information, such as the distance, directions, and travel times.

For each journey, Calhoun provides a list of the plants he saw, where they’re located, parks and other destinations in the area, camping and overnight accommodations, places to eat, nurseries, recommended books and references. The appendix has all sorts of helpful information, such as websites, instructions on collecting wild seeds, tips on growing desert plants, and seed sources.

“Big Thicket Plant Ecology-An Introduction” by Geraldine Ellis Watson is now in its third edition. This is part of the Temple Big Thicket Series, published by the University of North Texas Press. With maps, photos, and sketches, this guide is suitable for visitors and residents of East Texas. It is based on decades of research by the author, who was an ecologist and park ranger with the National Park Service.

The Big Thicket National Preserve is unique. It is at the crossroads where four different geographic regions and climates meet. This creates unique growing conditions for plants. This informative title provides a complete account of the climates and geology of the area. It explores the various plant communities in Big Thicket.

Readers can use this book to plan trips to Big Thicket. This has details on each unit in the preserve. The author also provides information on the impact of human activity on Big Thicket.

“Wild Foresting-Practicing Nature’s Wisdom” by Alan Drengson et al was released by New Society Publishers. In this ground breaking anthology, the author offers new hope for those who love trees and forests. These essays are by leading experts. This work draws on the knowledge of indigenous people and the traditional role that forests and trees have played in their lives. It shows that sustainable forestry and conservation is possible. The authors also cover the role of trees in global warming.

The authors promote the responsible use of forests for various non-destructive purposes, such as eco-tourism, education, and permaculture. Each chapter focuses on a specific role. This book also presents case studies. The essays are organized into sections by topic. One section deals with the current ecological crisis. Another focuses on the wisdom of indigenous people.

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