All About New Zealand Plants by Dave Gunson

I was going to be a little kind at least about this book which tries to make information on some of the plants growing in New Zealand available in a form suitable for people aged about 6 or 7 years on though to inexperienced adults. I could almost accept the random selection of plants which ranges through kauri and pingao to gorse and macrocarpa without ever discussing the difference between native and introduced plants, at least not that I could find. I was starting to have some issues with the classifications. It is pretty dodgy listing clover under Weeds but it just bizarre to put moss and lichen in the weed category. But it was when I looked at the pages on the so-called Penwiper Plant, Vegetable Sheep and the Mount Cook Lily that I immediately dismissed this book out of hand. Raoulia eximia is sometimes referred to as vegetable sheep, but that does not mean it is okay to rename it as that and completely ignore its proper name. There are a host of different plants internationally described as penwiper plants, but the main one we have here is Notothlapsi rosulatum. But don’t expect this book to tell you that because it has dumbed everything down so there is to be no botanical naming, even at the bottom of the page. The Blue Swamp Orchid – which orchid is it? Don’t expect this book to tell you that but it will tell you which tree is most likely to shout “Boo!” at you. Bah humbug. I hope New Holland’s other titles in their All About natural history series are better than this one.

(New Holland, ISBN: 978 1 86966 251 6)