Palms and Cycads

Author: David Squire
Publishers: New Holland

The fascination with palms and cycads is a fairly recent phenomenon in this country which may have something to do with our desire to pretend that our climate is more tropical than it is in reality. Palms and cycads are two completely different plant families but gardeners who favour one tend to also like the other (at a pinch one could say that cycads have foliage which resembles palms). There aren’t many good books on palms and cycads around, and even fewer on growing them in New Zealand conditions.

Sadly this book does not fill the gap. While it is subtitled “A complete guide to selecting, growing and propagating” this rather overstates the case. Mark was a bit suspicious of the species selected for inclusion (it is certainly not a comprehensive reference) so we gave it to an expert in Auckland to look at. He flicked through it and responded immediately that there are too many tropicals shown which won’t grow in Auckland, let alone Taranaki and the propagation advice tends to be “sow fresh seed”.

It is very nicely presented book, hardback, well laid out with good photographs. But it is probably too technical for the novice and not technical enough for the enthusiast – a coffee table book in the guise of a reference book.