When one reviews books, there is a fair amount of dross to wade through to find the gems but only occasionally does a definitive benchmark study turn up. New Zealand’s Native Trees is a huge book (570 pages and 2300 photographs) and comprehensive, covering 320 different species of trees, including sub species and varieties – which is all of our trees, I understand. We don’t always realise in this country just how special and unique is our native flora and this book covers pretty much everything you will ever need or want to know. It is not an off-putting academic treatise, though it is a reference book (it is too large to be anything else – you need to rest it on a desk) but with accessible information. Trees are photographed in situ as well as with comprehensive close-ups to aid identification. The text is clear and able to be understood easily by anyone ranging from those with a desultory interest through to the enthusiast and the expert. Additional information of interest is contained in boxes – the cabbage tree moth which chews holes in cordyline foliage, how to tell kanuka from manuka and much more.
The lead author is Dr John Dawson, now retired Associate Professor from the Botany Department of Victoria University while the photographer is Rob Lucas, a retired horticultural lecturer from the Open Polytechnic. The book represents seven years of dedicated work. Publisher, Craig Potton, is renowned for producing handsome, high quality publications and the production values of this book are top quality which is entirely appropriate, given that it is a timeless book which will justify its place on every bookshelf for many years to come. How refreshing it is to see an NZ publisher who is not scared to bring out a tome of enduring quality about plants. All credit to the editor, Jane Connor.
New Zealand’s Native Trees by John Dawson and Rob Lucas (Craig Potton Publishing; ISBN: 978 1 877517 01 3)