Surveying the plant kingdom


Green plants: their origin and diversity, 2nd edn

By P. R. Bell and A. R. Hemsley. x + 349 pages. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000. £19.95 (US$31.95) p/b. ISBN 0521 64673 1. £55.00 (US$90.00) h/b. ISBN 0521 64109 8

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Form and function, classification, and evolution are at the heart of the classical discipline of botany, a discipline that has had more than its share of ups and downs. Renamed and riding the molecular wave, plant biology has been refreshed and reinvigorated. Not so long ago hand sections, morphological specimens and taxonomic trees had a dusty, yesterday’s-science image; now we are beginning to look at them with new understanding and they are becoming once again the indispensable tools of the botanical trade.

All the more reason therefore to welcome the second edition of Bell and Hemsley’s well organized and clearly written survey of the plant kingdom published in 1992. Starting with an admirably terse and to-the-point overview of plant origins, adaptations and life cycles, the book works its way systematically from cyanobacteria through to the most advanced angiosperms, covering en route the morphology, reproductive development and evolutionary significance of representatives of the major phyla.

Structures are illustrated by well executed line drawings and detailed photographs, and a useful glossary of botanical terms is included. Green plants would serve as a basic text for students of plant or general biological sciences and also a refresher and reference source for researchers.