Field monographs are field guides for single families, genera or similar groups of plants, such as rattans. They concentrate on providing at least the same detail as pragmatic floras, but for a limited range of species, usually the most important and difficult to identify. To work, they should be based on a group that as a whole is distinctive. They could reasonably allow more information per species and still be pocketable.
As the variety of plant form is likely to be limited, in most cases it is sensible for such guides to illustrate plants in a standardised format, to facilitate comparison. Taxonomists are producing field guides in some cases as a secondary product of monographic work. Examples are:
- Rattans of Lao (Evans et al. (2001). An online version is available.
- Mesoamerican Pines (A. Farjon, J.A. Perez de la Rosa and B.T. Styles. 1997). See also background info.
- Acacias of Zimbabwe (J. Timberlake, R Fagg and R. Barnes, 1999).
- Leucaena genetic resources handbook (C. Hughes, 1998)
In this way a field guide can be truly portable, except that to include all species in this format would bring us back to the Pragmatic Flora size.
It is very important that field monographs refer to any similar species in groups outside the theme of the book wherever the subject is not in itself clearly recognisable.
'Coffee table' floras or guides
A number of monographs - Crotalaria of Africa, Palms of Madagascar - are beautifully produced with expensive paper and full colour printing, yet have all the detail of other, classical monographs. There are copious photographs and other information some of which would be normally associated with field guides. Yet, they have enough glossiness, style and colour to be sold, like any other coffee-table book, for the purpose of 'academic ornament' alone.
Although a number of old monographs or Floras were copiously illustrated and mentioned field characters, modern monographs are increasingly 'field-aware', perhaps mentioning bark or crown characteristics, and so for this reason represent a grey area between genres. We don't mean to labour our arbitrary borders between botanical genres, except to note that these are generally the output of taxonomic revisions, and not therefore likely to be the type of output a field guide writer can expect to make, nor one that a use rwould expect to carry to the field.