1430 pages, 9500+ colour photos, includes separate 44-page index
The classification of the Cacti has always been controversial, and this latest attempt will no doubt cause a lot of discussion! The author has taken what DNA studies have been made to date and tried to present them in an understandable fashion and then gives his current assessment – which he accepts will change with further refinement of the techniques and the understanding they give. Whilst this is inevitably somewhat technical there is plenty to interest those less concerned with these details.
The first volume starts with an introduction as to how plants are named, the recent history of cactus taxonomy, plant relationships and convergence. There then follows a more detailed look at how classification is approached along with all its challenges, how cacti originated, pollination and dispersal and evolution. Whilst inevitably it is technical, it is presented in a way which people interested in the subject will be able to absorb. And it isn't lengthy – this is just the first 40 pages.
The accepted genera are divided across the two volumes, with Acanthocalycium to Lymanbensonia in volum 1, and Maihuenia to Yungasocereus in volume 2, and for each accepted genus starts with the meaning of the name, altitude and description followed by his comments on the classification. Then the species he accepts, habitat, distribution. There are some colour photos in with this text, but the majority of the colour photos – a mix of habitat and cultivation – are in a separate section at the end of the appropriate volume forming about half of Taxonomy of the Cactaceae. The book is attractively presented and a pleasure to browse, and you don't have to be obsessed with the plants classification to get a lot of out the book – but there is no cultivation advice other than the habitat and altitude data.
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