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Pyrethrum Flowers: Production, Chemistry Toxicology, and Uses.
Edited by John E. Casida and Gary B. Quistad. Oxford University Press, 200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016. 1995. 356 pp. Cloth, $55.00. ISBN 0-19-508210-9.

Pyrethrum, derived from Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium, has been used safely and effectively as an insecticide for over 160 years. Pyrethrins, a mixture of fragrant esters found in this member of the aster family, have highly unusual insecticidal activity, with an ability to control or repel numerous insect pests, with little or no adverse environmental impact. Pyrethrin experts John E. Casida and Gary B. Quistad have edited the first comprehensive review on pyrethrum to appear in over 20 years. Casida and Quistad are Director and Co-director, respectively, of the Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.

The book is based on an international symposium, "Pyrethrum Flowers: Production, Chemistry, Toxicology and Uses," held in August 1992 in Hawaii. The event was held in conjunction with the American Institute of Biological Sciences' annual meeting. Additional contributions were gathered, revised, and expanded through September of 1993. The authors of the 19 chapters are each specialists in their respective areas of expertise.

You don't have to be a pyrethrum expert to find this book of value. Producers, growers, and suppliers will find the detailed background information also useful. Chapter one, "Chemicals in Insect Control," contains an excellent review of the main classes of insecticides, details on synthetic pyrethroids, resistance and mode of action of insecticides, and comparisons of classes of insecticides. Chapter two provides an in -- epth look at the use of pyrethrums, and their production in various countries in the 1970s and '80s. Production in Africa and Australia is detailed in chapters four and five. Breeding methodologies are detailed in the fifth chapter; information that is useful for understanding the evolution of breeding programs for other bioactive plant species as well. Chapters six through nine cover the chemistry of pyrethrins, including their extraction, analysis, constituents, and environmental fate. The fourth section of the book,"Toxicology of Pyrethrins and Pyrethrum Ex tract," includes five chapters on the mode of action, insect resistance, mammalian toxicology, metabolism and synergism of pyrethrins, plus environmental toxicology. Chapters 15 through 18 focus on the use of pyrethrums for pest control in agricultural and stored products, medical and veterinary clinical situations, and insects in the home. Chapter 18 is a review of research on residues and tolerances established for various food or crops. The final chapter is a summary of the book prepared by editors Casida and Quistad.

This a most important book on the most important botanical insecticide. It is more than that, however. The detailed research, production, extraction, chemical, and use data contained in this book sets a high standard of excellence for comprehensive reviews of other widely used botanical materials. It is an important volume for anyone involved in production or storage of agricultural products.

Article copyright American Botanical Council.


By Steven Foster