Guide to the woody plants of the Upper Guinea

Guide to the Woody Plants of Western Africa. W.D. Hawthorne & C.Jongkind. 2006. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, U.K.

Woody Plants of western African Plants Hawthorne & Jongkind2130 Species (more if we include exotics that are mentioned); c.2600 drawings; 2600 photographs; c.1000 pages, 358,000 words.

A large field guide, or pragmatic flora, to all 2, 300 species of trees, shrub, liane known in the forests of Upper Guinea, i.e. Ghana (and the Togo mts), Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Senegal, Guinea Bissau and Gambia. This has been prepared under the ECOSYN project, based in Wageningen University.

It covers all Upper Guinean forest trees, shrubs and lianes, plus some other common climbers and a few larger herbs e.g. the Marantaceae, useful to managers. Of the higher forest plants, it only excludes ferns, orchids, other epiphytes and the smaller, fleshier-stemmed or weedy herbs.

 

 

The guide has taken several person years of work on the Ecosyn project by four people, including two artists to complete the drawings for all species (actually, a few could not be drawn due to specimen non-availability). One of the authors (CJ) concentrated on nomenclatural issues and the taxonomy of some difficult climber groups, notably the lianes of the Combretaceae and Celastraceae and Annonaceae, whilst the other (WH) has dealt with most of the other groups and attempted to coordinate this with vegetative and field keys to groups.

The main target groups we had in mind whilst creating this guide were not taxonomists from developed countries, although we hope such readers will find it useful; rather users with some technical or scientific background in west Africa, including foresters of all ranks, wildlife officers, university students, medicinal plant researchers, NGOs interested in conservation, and hopefully those plant enthusiasts scattered throughout rural west Africa, enthusiasts that are common throughout our region, but have limited access to useful literature. It is hoped for such people this guide will be a long term learning tool as well as a quick reference guide.

One main task has been to sort out the proper names for all woody plants living in the forests of our region – defining the scope has been a problem in itself - , and another has been to map a route to identifying such plants as far as possible with field characters like leaves, stems and bark, i.e. without requiring details flowers or fruits. We have been beaten in this aim by a few groups where fertile details are needed (notably various Annonaceae lianes), but for most we hope we have substantially improved their identifiability, compared to what could be achieved with existing references, not least by such heavy use of illustration.

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