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Leaf Surfaces of Central European Woody Plants / Blattoberflächen Mitteleuropäischer Laubgehölze: Atlas and Keys / Atlas und Bestimmungsschlüssel

Identification Key

By: Christian Westerkamp (Author), Helmut Demmelmeyer (Author)

558 pages, plates with 1900 b/w photos

Gebrüder Borntraeger Verlag

Hardback | Dec 1997 | #72325 | ISBN: 3443010342
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 weeks Details
NHBS Price: £94.99 $116/€107 approx

About this book

Language: Bilingual in English and German

Leaves usually suffice to identify the woody plants they belong to, if the leaf samples are large enough and well preserved. In certain fields of applied biology (e.g. forensic sciences, palaeobiology) small fragments constitute the bulk of the material for investigation. Until now, it was next to impossible to identify the corresponding woody plant down to the species level from these fragments.

Only non-destructive methods were considered for examination in order to leave the samples unaltered, e.g. for their use as forensic evidence. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) has proved an appropriate method. Without time-consuming sample preparation it allows investigation of leaf surface micromorphology (indumentum, shape and number of stomata, undulation of anticlinal boundaries, sculpture of outer periclinal walls, etc.). These data may then be used to determine the species of the corresponding woody plant. The wealth of information hidden in leaf surfaces has in the past been used to clarify relationships within narrow taxa but has never been applied to species discrimination of larger groups as heterogeneous as woody plants.

With leaves of 300 species, Leaf Surfaces of Central European Woody Plants comprises all important broadleaves of Central Europe. As Leaf Surfaces of Central European Woody Plants also considers frequently cultivated economic and ornamental plants besides indigenous species, its usefulness extends far beyond Central Europe. All important structures of abaxial and adaxial leaf surfaces are painstakingly described applying a uniform terminology. 250 species are illustrated on plates with some 1900 SEM micrographs depicting standardized surveys as well as significant details. Computer-aided processing of the leaf-structure data using the DELTA system resulted in standardized species descriptions and a key which allows for a separation and thus identification of almost all the species investigated.

For the first time, leaf surface micromorphology of broadleaves is described and depicted in a standardized format and used for species identification. As all leaf-surface characteristics can be determined on tiny surface moieties, even the exact identification of leaf fragments is possible.

"The book is a unique atlas of leaf surfaces of Central European woody plants accompanied by keys for their identification. Publication of the book was promoted by the need for such an atlas in criminology. However, it could be a very useful reference book for pharmaceutical biologists, paleobotanists, palynologists and also for zoologists investigating samples from the alimentary tract or from excrement in order to determine plants which had been ingested. The method used for obtaining images of leaf surfaces complies with the original intention to prepare a reference atlas for forensic examinations. The illustrations used are scanning-electron-microscopic images of air-dried specimens of leaf fragments, thus allowing a fast processing of samples without time-consuming preparations. To generate standardised descriptions of species-specific leaf surfaces and the keys the data were processed using the computer-aided DELTA system (Description Language for Taxonomy). The generated keys also included in the book allow identification independently of the approach to the DELTA system. The keys allow a fast identification of leaf surfaces of 301 woody species, only nine species of which cannot be definitely separated. The book consists of three main units. The first includes an introductory text to the following parts and consists of the preface, the introduction, the material and the methods, the character list for using the DELTA system, the glossary with remarks on character weighting, and the keys for manual identification. The main body of the book is a standardized atlas of leaf surfaces. Photographically documented species are presented alphabetically at the beginning of this unit. A double page is devoted to one species and has a standard arrangement: The first page gives the images of adaxial and abaxial surfaces, including the total view on the surface (first row) then the detail of a standard area, and the detail of the outer periclinal wall of the stoma(ta) (second row) and details of additional epidermal structures, such as hairs and domatia, if present (third row). The second page gives a written description of the characters of the particular leaf surfaces for a given species consisting of the description of the macro-morphology, the abaxial surface, the adaxial surface, the indumentum, and the habitat of the species. The atlas part continues with the alphabetically arranged remaining woody species, whose leaf surfaces were not illustrated in the first part. This list corresponds in its arrangement to the second page of the species accounts of the first part of the atlas, i.e. it includes the same descriptive sections. The last part of the atlas includes references and an index with German, English and Latin names of included species. The big advantages of the book are firstly its bilingual text in German and English, and secondly the unusual format, which is very advantageous for this purpose. The book could be of use not only for the above-mentioned specialists, but also as a reference book for the study of plant anatomy, as it gives the whole range of variability of leaf surfaces of woody plants. It is important to add that the atlas does not contain coniferous species (e.g. genera Picea and Pinus)."

- Jana Albrechtóva, Folia Geobotanica 34/2, 1999, p. 286

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