Book Reviews

Plants of Tropical North Queensland: the Compact Guide

plantsoftropicalnorthqldPlants of  Tropical North Queensland: the Compact Guide

by John Beasley, 2006,

Footloose Publications, Kuranda 4881.

Reviewed by Kerry Rathie

This notebook-sized (A5) book  of 192 pages is an interesting  and quirky little publication covering 485 plants, mostly native, likely to be noticed in its area of coverage. This is centred on Cairns, but extends to include Cooktown and Ingham and their hinterland areas like Chillagoe.

Plants, each given a number, are arranged in groups like trees, vines and so on within habitats. These are mangroves, shore and swamp, coastal open forest, rainforest, inland open forest and stream margins. There is also an introductory section on harmful plants and closing sections on weeds and on ornamental shrubs and trees (exotics and natives from outside the area).


The plants each have a unique numeric identifier, and many are listed under the multiple keys, based on things like colours of all major plant parts, leaf sizes and shapes and textures and arrangement, and stem and bark features. Photos are smallish but almost always clear. Height, leaf length, flower size, flowering period, fruiting time and fruit size are given for each plant. 

The author has trolled the internet for information on medicinal, culinary, timber and other usages, world-wide distributions, and items of general interest. His wording warns of some of the more dubious claims. Interesting details appear on some unusual plants, like the caterpillars farmed by the ants inside ant plants, and pandanus that reverse their direction of spiral growth after each flowering period.

Most of the relatively few errors I noted are due to his successful effort to avoid dry botanical descriptions. The genus Cycas, as his image of C. media clearly shows, does not have female cones, but seeds borne on numerous modified leaves. Helichrysums are indeed daisies to a botanist. Black pine, Prumnopitys amara, does not deserve to be in a new genus (Sundacarpus) by itself, according to DNA evidence.

Price: $21.95  +  postage and8.00

Available from:


PO Box 1137, Glebe. NSW. 2037

Phone: 02 9571 8222  Fax: 02 8208 9938


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