Plants Visited by Bees and Other Useful Plants of Umalila, Southern Tanzania
Article first published online: 3 SEP 2007
© 2007 The Author. Journal compilation © 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
African Journal of Ecology
Volume 46, Issue 3, page 459, September 2008
How to Cite
Gereau, R. E. (2008), Plants Visited by Bees and Other Useful Plants of Umalila, Southern Tanzania. African Journal of Ecology, 46: 459. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2028.2007.00835.x
- Issue published online: 26 AUG 2008
- Article first published online: 3 SEP 2007
P.Latham . Mystole Publications , Canterbury, UK . Price £35 . ISBN: 978-0-9554208 3 0
Plants Visited by Bees and Other Useful Plants of Umalila, Southern Tanzania, by Paul Latham (3rd edn, 2007), documents the useful plants of this understudied area with an attractive and informative collection of high-quality and well-annotated colour photographs. After a short introduction on the practice and importance of beekeeping in Umalila, 180 plant species are presented in alphabetical order by scientific name; common names are given in Kimalila (the tribal language of Umalila) for almost all species and in Swahili and/or English whenever available; and the information on the species is organized into sections under the headings, Description, Ecology, Propagation, Management, Uses and References. This parallel organization makes comparison of the information between species quite easy and straightforward and greatly enhances the ease of reference of this highly useful compendium. Wherever I checked, the information presented under Description and Ecology is quite accurate and the information content of the book in general appears to be quite reliable.
Although the presentation and content of the book are clear, accurate and informative, its overall organizing principle remains a bit unclear. For example, of the dozens of species of Crotalaria present in Umalila, what is the reason for presenting only C. cleomifolia and C. natalitia? We might assume that these two species have more known uses than the others, but an explanation from the author would be preferable. Only a very few entries are identified at the infraspecific level (e.g. Berkheya echinacea ssp. polyacantha and Bersama abyssinica ssp. abyssinica), although some other entries would be more accurate if similar infraspecific treatment were provided (e.g. the information presented under Rhus pyroides really applies only to R. pyroides var. pyroides and not to var. gracilis, also present in Umalila). Although the references given under individual species are quite useful, they do not always support the usage of the names as given in the text, and a few references are incorrectly cited (e.g. Lovett et al. 2006 is consistently cited as Lovett et al. 2001). These are, however, relatively minor oversights and inconsistencies that can be addressed and corrected in a subsequent edition.
With the consistently high quality of its photographs, the cross-reference and indexing of scientific and common names, and the bibliographic references to standard floras, taxonomic and ethnobotanical publications, and the agronomic literature, the book helps to bridge the gap between popular wildflower guides and the technical scientific literature, and as such is an interesting and valuable contribution.