Book Reviews

Fungi and Cyanobacteria: A Guide to Species of Medical and Veterinary Importance

Australia’s Poisonous Plants, 

Fungi and Cyanobacteria: A Guide to Species of Medical and Veterinary Importance

by Dr Ross A. McKenzie PSM DVSc

Published by CSIRO. Hardback – 976 pages -  $195.00.

Ross is a Registered Specialist in Veterinary Pathobiology, an Honorary, Research Associate, Queensland Herbarium and Biosecurity Queensland and a Life Member of the Australian Veterinary Association.

The book features some 420 plants, fungi and cyanobacteria treated in detail, covering all the important species in Australia. Mycotoxin-producing fungi are not included because Ross originally designed the book as a field guide and mould fungi didn’t fit that concept. Ross says, “The ‘field guide’ format remains, but you’ll need a wheel-barrow to carry it if you want to use it in the paddock – it just grew!”

 The illustrated species profiles and common poisoning profiles are the main focus. In addition, for practicing vets and medicos, Ross has constructed a 205-page Digest listing all known and suspected poisonous species in Australia (about 2,000) with brief details of toxins, animal species affected, syndromes caused and rankings for degree of danger and weight of evidence for toxicity. 

There is an appendix offering hints for identifying common flowering plants and appendices listing the major plants by animal species susceptible, organ systems affected (to help with diagnosis) and distribution by state. Also appendices for poisoning ‘hot spots’ and ‘the top killers’ (a response to the commonly-asked question, ‘What’s the most poisonous plant in Australia?’). 

The book has not been written as an academic text. There are no literature citations, just a short reading list, and the author has tried to write in a plain language style so that non-professionals will have a chance of understanding. He wants it to be accessible to animal owners and managers, so that they can use it to prevent poisonings. 

 To order copies of the book, please see the publisher’s website at:

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