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Accurate color botanicals
Posted by Beth Spirko on 7/16/2008
Botanical drawings are extremely detailed, nearly to perfect scale, and in full color. Knowing how long one botanical piece requires, this artwork is a true labor of love for the illustrator(s). I defer to arguments left on the Peterson vs. Audubon bird guides on the usefulness of photographs vs. drawings for detail. That's preference. However, color is preferred over black and white drawings with a "color plate" or two to facilitate identification.
The book is organized taxonomically, not by color. This makes identification challenging until skimmed a few times to get the gist. However, beginners will find the color illustrations cheerful and welcoming. In the end, learning the basic taxa will help them expand their knowledge beyond the book.
The writing style and structure is not for the novice who wants to use it once on vacation then chuck it. Rather, the target seems to be for people who want to learn a little about the thing in their yard or down the block without going overboard. To keep it engaging, descriptions occasionally include folklore and make note of the invasives and toxic plants that are the most problematic.
Could be improved with distribution maps instead of just descriptions of range, perhaps 2-3 species on each, to better visualize distribution by altitude and habitat.