Generic field guides and student texts
These ae practical guides to plants which, in a bid to provide a practical tool for field use, strip out many species-level details. There are some excellent guides which are well used in the field, but which are not designed to identify the majority of plants to species level. They educate, and help botanists learn a new flora and put their specimens into generic order.
- Letouzey’s Manual (1986) has characteristics of both pragmatic floras and text books (much technical detail, broad coverage of many families in African forests), but is light, slim, well-bound, and well-illustrated with line drawings, with useful field information. It is apparently aimed at technical students.
- For the Neotropics there is Gentry’s (1993) guide, which very successfully breaks the ice for a biodiverse area at a mostly generic level, without getting bogged down in all species level details.
- The generic tree flora of Madagascar is no doubt invaluable for field workers in this difficult flora.
Although bordering on the latter type, we exclude from our definition of field guide the following types of more academic book.
- There are family level treatments where one or two genera or species are given as examples, to be used in university or secondary school systematics classrooms or field trips in conjunction with specimens carefully selected by a teacher;
- also, keys and other guides to the families of vascular plants that cover all the tropical regions, but which require fertile material and the dissection of flowers to succeed.
- R. Keller's 1996 (revised 2004) book, Identification of tropical woody plants in the absence of flowers and fruits, a fieldguide, deserves a special, honorary mention in this context, as it focuses on field characters, but is more more general reference than practical identification, hence is not strictly a field guide.
- And there are many other student texts and family or genus guides, ranging from simple (such as Heywood 1993) to the more academic (Geesink et al. ).
- These sorts of guides occupy the spectrum between textbooks and pragmatic floras for large areas covering broad groups (e.g. families or genera) of plants , and standard botanical textbooks covering the diversity of plant life in the world and how to recognise it. We mention them here because they are rich sources of information for guide writers, and we would not want them to be hidden.