Field Guides

Field Guides allow the public to participate in botanical assessment, to appreciate their flora and thereby to provide a better chance of sustaining it. Even botanists are hampered by lack of any accessible guides to biodiverse regions. This has been discussed this in Lawrence and Hawthorne, and here. [link to VFH field guide]

RBS is facilitated by field guides if they are available, but all too often they are not. However, RBS is an ideal framework to develop the resource, to add to the often limited information available in herbaria:

  • Photographs of living plants
  • Specimens,showing the range of variation of a species, even when juvenile
  • Ecological data, such as which habitat each species prefers
  • Local or regional distribution data

Field Guides can often be added as an extra goal of a particular survey. They are both enabling of other research, but their production also involves plenty of research in itself. Very often, characters (especially vegetative ones) that could allow us to distinguish plants in the field or herbarium specimens are poorly documented. Many of these incompletely researched features, such as glands, domatia, liane wood structure, are likely to influence ecological function of the species, so our research into their distribution has relevance beyond mere species recognition.

Examples of field Guides for different purposes

  • C. A. M. Marshall & W. D. Hawthorne (2012). Important plants of northern Nimba County, Liberia . Oxford Forestry Institute, ISBN 9780850742282.

  • Hawthorne, W.D, Jongkind, C.C.H. (2006) Woody Plants of Western African Forests. A guide to the forest trees, shrubs and lianes from Senegal to Ghana doi:Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, UK.

  • Hawthorne, W.D, Gyakari, N. (2006) Photoguide for the forest trees of Ghana. A tree-spotter's field guide for identifying the largest trees.

  • Hawthorne, W.D, Jules, D, Marcelle, G, Wise, R. (2005) Caribbean Spice Island Plants: Trees, shrubs and climbers of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique: a picture gallery with notes on identification, historical and other trivia.

  • Jongkind, C.C.H, Hawthorne, W.D. (2005) A botanical synopsis of the lianas and other forest climbers Chapter 2 In Forest Climbing Plants of West Africa: Diversity, Ecology and Management.

  • Hawthorne, W.D. (1990) Field Guide to the forest trees of Ghana. Ghana Forestry Series 1 (2nd edition, Translated to French, 1997)..doi:Natural Resources Institute, Chatham, UK.

Making field guides work with different types of plant and guide-user

  • Hawthorne, W.D, Cable, S, Marshall, C.A.M. (2014) Empirical trials of plant field guides. Conservation Biology doi:10.1111/cobi.12232.

  • Lawrence, A, Hawthorne, W.D. (2006) Plant Identification: User friendly Guides for biodiversity management. doi:Earthscan, UK.