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Botany for Gardeners: Book Review for

Botany for Gardeners,  Brian Capon, Timber Press

This book was born in the classroom. It began as a general botany course for non-science majors who were compelled to take a science course. Its success in reaching out to students inspired the transformation of the author’s lecture notes into a book.

Gardeners who are curious about how plants work will be pleased by the author's crystal-clear presentation. Readers will discover what happens inside a seed after it is planted, how plants use each other –and animals- to survive, how they reproduce and how they transform nutrients into growth.

The publication is divided into five easy-to read sections. The first deals with plant growth, cells, and roots. The second section is about plant organization- the inner components of stems, roots, and leaves. Third is a section on how plants adapt to their environment in order to fulfill the basic needs of survival and propagation. The fourth section discusses the influence of light, gravity, temperature, water and nutrients and the effect that they have on growth and development. Finally, the fifth section deals with reproduction and heredity.

Here are some outstanding features in this publication: Look for clear photos comparing a fibrous root system with a taproot and comparative drawings explaining the differences between a runner, a rhizome, and a sucker. There are also dazzling plant images taken with a scanning electron microscope, a discussion of genetic engineering, and awesome diagrams showing the sequence of photosynthesis: how water, air, and light produce sugars in a plant, which when combined with soil minerals produce fats, protein, and vitamins. This reviewer was delighted to find graphic illustrations that visualize the various descriptions of inflorescence. I discovered the difference between a spike, a raceme, a panicle, an umbel, and a composite head. Try reading a flower catalogue without a basic knowledge of these concepts.

The author, a native of Cheshire England, was educated in England, Canada, and the United States, receiving a Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Chicago. For thirty years, he was Professor of Botany at California State University, Los Angeles, where he taught courses ranging from undergraduate general botany to advanced subjects for graduate students.

Those who feel the need to know more about the science behind gardening will find great satisfaction in reading this publication. While the information presented is comprehensive, it is, in the end, a reader-friendly book.



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Reader Comments (1)

This sounds perfect for me; I'll look for it. Thanks for the review.

June 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJean

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