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The Student's Flora of the British Islands

Nature volume 31, page 191 | Download Citation



THE lover and collector of our wild plants may congratulate himself on the number of botanists of the first rank who have devoted their energies to his service. Bentham, Hooker, and Babington have all of them written hand-books of the British flora, all of them excellent in their way. In the one now before us we have the well-known lucidity of description characteristic of the author combined with the most recent extensions of our knowledge as regards British plants. Very great care and labour have been expended in bringing the “Student's Flora” abreast of the most recent discoveries. The number of species of flowering-plants added to the British flora since the publication of the last edition in 1878 is not inconsiderable, indeed is surprising, considering the limited extent of the field and the number of workers on it. In addition to the introduction of these new species, the limits of species and sub-species have been carefully revised, and the “critical” genera submitted to the criticism of experts; the genus Potamogeton having been, in particular, revised by Mr. Arthur Bennett. Nor has the physiological side of the subject been neglected. For the first time, as far as I am aware, in any local flora of importance, the characters of the genera concerned in the process of fertilisation are given, especially those illustrated by the writings of the late Hermann Müller. Under the diagnosis of each genus it is stated—as far as is known —whether the plants belonging to it are wind-fertilised, insect-fertilised, or self-fertilised; whether honey is secreted in the flower or not; and whether the stamens and stigma ripen together, or, if not, which is the earlier. The result is that the field-student has now a hand-book of the characters of the plants that he meets with in wood and field, by stream and bog, and on the mountain-side, more complete than any which has heretofore been ready to his hand.

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