by Brooker and Kleinig
Published by Inkata Press
A "Field Guide to Eucalypts - Volume 3" completes a series of books which gives comprehensive account of Australian eucalypts, with emphasis on identification. Volume 3 covers the whole of northern Australia, ie. the northern half of Western Australia, the whole of the Northern Territory, and the whole of Queensland, including the area already covered by Volume 1.
The introductory chapters are full of interest and valuable information on the history, classification and identification of eucalypts. The species identification keys are necessarily large, but not too unwieldy, because the authors have split northern Australia into nine regions, each having a separate key. A good feature of these keys is that reliable (ie. relatively constant) characters are used in the. early couplets; so that the user can be confident of at least arriving at the right group of species, before unreliable characters, such as “leaves glossy vs. leaves dull”, are encountered.
The heart of the book is made up by the species digests. 279 eucalypt taxa are treated, including 21 taxa not yet formally named (they are identified by a 2-letter code), and six new species formally described in this book. Every species (or subspecies) is allocated one page, and the reader is provided with a botanical description, distribution map and colour photographs. The photography is excellent. This is a tribute to David Kleinig and the high standard he sets himself.
Not wishing to discuss individual species, however, the inclusion of Eucalyptus rameliana is of particular interest. This species was discovered by Ernest Giles in 1876, but was then “lost” and was only re-discovered in 1991!
Some minor errors and inconsistencies have been noted. E. clavigera has been omitted without explanation. Eucalyptus sp. TT, as it is given in the book, is in fact E. kabiana, described in 1991. The author citation for E. paedoglauca is incorrect and should be “Johnson & Blaxell”. For E. atrovirens, the description states that the inflorescences are 7-flowered, but the accompanying photograph shows a 12-flowered and a 9-flowered inflorescence; similarly with E. nesophila.
These minor blemishes do not detract from what is a superb treatment of Australia's second largest genus of plants. This book may be recommended to anyone with an interest in Eucalyptus.