Book Reviews

Grasses: Native and Introduced Grasses of the Noosa Biosphere Reserve and Surrounding Regions

grassesnoosabiospherereserveby Sonia MacDonald and Stephanie Haslam

Published in 2009 by Noosa Integrated Catchment Association Inc. assisted by SEQ Catchments

Reviewed by Barry Jahnke

It is pleasing to note over the past few years an increased interest in grasses, especially Australian grasses, including their use in horticulture.

Unfortunately in the past, most gardeners considered grasses to be those plants with uninteresting inconspicuous flowers which needed to be mown down and the plants prevented from invading garden beds. A real problem though was knowing which grasses are Australian and which ones are foreign: a huge task with over 1,200 species in Australia.

It is refreshing to see the regional reference books like “Grasses” now being published, which, despite having a small geographic coverage, make a significant contribution to our understanding of these interesting plants.

“Grasses” is A4 format with 140 pages within soft cover binding. The book features 63 native and 45 introduced species in an interesting format. It is colour throughout on gloss paper with attractive photographs.

As expected, the chapters include those dealing with grass characteristics, especially structure and reproduction. However, due to the authors and publishers practical experiences, they have included other topics, eg. ‘The Healers’ (plants used for land rehabilitation), ‘The Invaders’, ‘Pasture Grasses’ and ‘Landscaping’. Four specialists have contributed to these sections.

It is the featuring of the grass species in the bulk of the book which is the most fascinating. The large format allows the plants to be featured at natural size. Line drawings are commonly used in most books, but in this instance the authors have collected specimens, pressed them and then colour scanned for images to suit the page. Understandably, some colour was lost during pressing, but these images give the user a sense of looking at the real specimen. Each image is accompanied with concise word information.

The native and introduced grasses are in separate sections of the book with colour margins for easy location.

There is no key for identification and, as the plants are compiled in alphabetical order, one needs to peruse for plant recognition.

A very interesting and useful book, well designed and useful for gardeners, land carers and naturalists, not just in the Noosa Biosphere, but much further afield, as many grasses do not restrict themselves to small areas of Australia.

Price: $40.00  + postage

Available from:

Noosa Integrated Catchment Association Inc.

PO Box 172
Tewantin, Qld. 4565

Phone/Fax: (07) 5449 9650 

Address: Shop 20, Noosa Marina, Tewantin (last shop on the right)
Office Hours: Mon/Tue/Thu 09-15:00 Wed/Fri By appointment

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