The Flowering Plants of Western India

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    NOW that the “Flora of British India” by Sir Joseph Hooker and his helpers, is nearing completion, we are sure to get works more or less founded upon it, dealing with smaller areas which it includes. The first portion of Trimen's “Flora of Ceylon” has already appeared. This is a strictly scientific work, and a thoroughly complete enumeration of the plants of the island; and now we have the present volume, which is merely a popular account of the principal plants occurring within the Presidency of Bombay, excluding Sindh. The author, the Rev. Alexander Nairne, belonged to the Bombay Civil Service, and made, whilst resident in India, notes on the habit and character of the more striking plants, which he saw, together with their native names and uses. Previously to the present work the only special books on the same district were the “Bombay Flora,” published in 1861 by Dalzell and Gibson (the latter the energetic Conservator of Bombay Forests), and the “Catalogue of Plants growing in Bombay and its vicinity,” which was published by Mr. Graham in 1839. But one cannot omit reference to the names of Mr. Law and Dr. Stocks. Mr. Law and Mr. Dalzell worked the Concan Flora most ably and energetically. Mr. Law resided for many years at Tannah, near Bombay, and explored the Northern Concan; while Mr. Dalzell chiefly employed himself in the Southern Concan and adjacent province of Canara. Dr. Stocks officiated for Dr. Gibson during that gentleman's visit to Europe. He collected in Sindh, and, amongst other plants, gathered the curious Gos-sypium, which bears his name, the probable parent of all the forms of Indian cotton, and also in the mountains of the Concan, the small Impatiens Stocksii. Besides the books mentioned, many Bombay plants are described in Roxburgh's “Flora,” and in Wight and Arnott's “Prodromus,” and many are figured in Wight's “Icones.” Mr. Nairne states that he knows the Concan fairly well, which, with the ghauts which bound it on the east, are botanically the richest part of the Presidency. He also claims a fair acquaintance with the Deccan, but he has never been in the Southern Maratta country at all, and his acquaintance with Guzerat is decidedly limited. The mode in which the scientific part of this book is made up is as follows: “The nomenclature and classification are entirely those of Hooker's ‘Indian Flora’; the descriptions of orders are mainly Hooker's, but with details from other writers. The descriptions of genera are Hooker's, very much compressed”; so much compressed, we are afraid, as to be in some cases quite unintelligible. As has before been mentioned, the descriptions of species are from the author's own notes, compared with those of other writers, chiefly Hooker's and Dalzell's. The title appears to us decidedly misleading (“The Flowering Plants of Western India”), as one might naturally expect at least an enumeration of all the Phanerogamous plants growing within the Presidency, and this is far from being the case. What will Mr. C. B. Clarke, the talented monographer of the natural order Cyperaceœ, say when he sees that his especial protégés find no place in the Flora? Gramineœ are also omitted. Mr. Nairne states that their flowers “consist only of bracts or scales,” and does not evidently consider these two orders sufficiently merit the rank of flowering plants. The book, we are told, is intended for two classes—“Firstly, the Englishmen and Englishwomen whose duty calls them to Western India, and who wish to know something about the trees and flowers which surround them; and secondly, the educated natives of the country.” It is a small octavo, and can be easily carried for field work. The contents consist of a prelude of several pages of quotations, introduction, definition of terms used in the work, several pages to explain the system of classification employed, then the body of the work, and it concludes with a couple of indices—one for Latin and English names, and one for the native names. In the body of the work you first get a conspectus of the orders, then under each order you get a more amplified description, a short key to the genera, and then the species, for which no authorities are given, are described briefly in English. The less important species are described in smaller type, and a quotation is generally added from a well-known writer.

    The Flowering Plants of Western India.

    By Rev. A. K. Nairne. 8vo. pp. 401. (London: W. H. Allen and Co. Bombay: The Education Society's Press, Byculla.)

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