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Flora of North America: Volume 2 - Pteridophytes and Gymnosperms.
Edited by Nancy R. Morin. Oxford University Press, 200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016. 1993. 475 pp. Cloth. $75. ISBN 0-19-508242-7. Available from ABC books.

The second of the projected 14 volumes in The Flora of North America portends what is to come. This volume covers the ferns and fern allies, as well as the gymnosperms, familiar to most as conifers or evergreens. The fern and fern allies comprise about three percent of the vascular plants of continental North America north of Mexico, according to Warren H. Wagner, Jr., and Alan R. Smith, in the chapter on Pteridophytes in Volume I. This of course includes club-mosses, spike mosses, quillworts, and horsetails, as well as the ferns.

Next come the gymnosperms -- pine trees and such. The 115 species covered here not only include those familiar pines, junipers, firs, and sequoias that may come to mind when one thinks of gymnosperms, but also the monotypic ginkgo family, sago-palm family, and the ephedra family.

If you love field botany, if you love armchair botany, if you have more than a passing interest in wildflowers, trees, shrubs, weeds, herbs, or any aspect of plants growing without cultivation in North America, you will no doubt own Flora of North America. The detail is excellent, the information complete. Each species account includes taxonomic details, excellent descriptions, and a brief synopsis of the plant's relationship to humans, especially if toxic, or planted for ornament. Excellent line drawings are included along with a range map for each species. This is the work for which many have waited a lifetime. It has arrived, at an exceptionally affordable price. For the quality of the information, and the quality of the book itself -- paper, binding, feel in the hands -$75.00 per volume is a small price to pay.

Article copyright American Botanical Council.