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Plant Life in the World's Mediterranean Climates

Peter Dallman



9.9×7.4in • 25×19cm

210 pages

index included

ISBNs: 0520208099 • 9780520208094

University of California Press • 1998

Many people will enjoy this book: students and instructors in geography, ecology, climatology, and plant biology have a superb text; gardeners who emphasize native plants have a valuable field guide and reference; and those individuals who simply want to know more about the environment in which they live will be educated and entertained.

Michael Barbour, California's Changing Landscapes

In this engaging and beautifully illustrated book, Peter Dallman describes the five regions of the world with a mediterranean climate (their climates are not so similar as I once believed [R.  Ornduff]), the diverse adaptations that enable plants to survive the prolonged summer droughts typical of these regions, the plant communities found there, and human influences that have shaped the physical and botanical landscapes.  For each region, he describes and illustrates significant features of the terrain, environmental influences, and vegetation types.  As a traveler, Dallman has first-hand knowledge of these places, is well-read, and has distilled a myriad of facts into a highly readable and engaging synthesis for those interested in the rich array of plants that grow in these regions.  Chapter 10 presents useful suggestions for those planning a trip to any of these regions and recommends books that will enhance their visits.

Robert Ornduff (1932-2000), from the Preface

My own notion of this book is that it's a good introductory over-view of the various Mediterranean regions but more useful, perhaps, for potential eco-tourists or at least for those with a particular interest in ecology rather than for practical gardeners with a particular interest in plants in a garden context.  It only deals with a few 'indicator species' from each region and it only deals with them in terms of their natural habitats (lots on geology and climate).  [Often, of course, this information about natural habitat also provides useful information-by-implication about what and how those (few selected) plants are likely to do in gardens - and it's true that, by even more implication, how those selected plants may do may also have implications about how others from the same region will do.]

This isn't really a 'criticism' of the book (it doesn't set out to be a comprehensive guide to plants from each Mediterranean region), simply an underlining of what it DOES set out to be.  Perhaps the compare-and-contrast sections (region A v.  region B, etc) are the sections I found most stimulating and thought-provoking.  It's pleasantly written and packs a good deal of sound knowledge into a quite limited space (it's around 250 pages long: so each region only gets 30-40 pages devoted to it).  In summary, I'd say: worth getting the paperback; unless you've got money to burn, though, I doubt it justifies a hardback copy.

Tim Longville on Medit-Plants, posted 16 Nov 1998

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