This compilation of photographs, collections and expertise gathered over the past 25 years describes the miombo woodland, the threats it is facing and contains descriptions of 143 families, 611 genera and 1634 species found within the Mutinondo Wilderness Area of northern Zambia.
It is a prime cornerstone to the appreciation of the impressive diversity of the wetter miombo woodland which is essential to publicise, particularly in the light of the ever increasing pressures and destruction being wrought on this woodland in Zambia and the sub region. By being written by a layperson (Lari Merrett), together with a leader in African dry lands plant taxonomy (Dr. Kaj Vollesen), it is a very useful information and identification resource for conservationists, botanists and nature lovers who want to learn more about the magnificent miombo.
The book contains 1022 pages and is divided into two (2) parts. In addition to the descriptions of the ferns and monocots, part 1 includes: a detailed Introduction by Dr. Paul Smith of the Botanic Garden Conservation Institute; an inspirationally charged Foreword by Noah Zimba of the Zambian Institute of Forestry; a comprehensive introduction to Mutinondo Wilderness and its botanical background, and a 51 page photographic key. Part 2 contains the descriptions of dicots. For ease of reference the complete scientific and common name indices for both parts are colour coded and included in the back of each.
Species descriptions include habit, height, flower colour, key characteristics (underlined), distribution, habitat, altitude and flowering time. Of the 1634 species descriptions, 1618 are accompanied by 3 to 8 photographs each (of the balance, 9 descriptions have 2 photos each, 2 are with only one and 2 are lacking). The family and genera descriptions include only the key characteristics for each. Photos within the photographic key in part 1 are mostly arranged in colour order of distinctive flowers, fruit, leaves and thorns. These are all divided into the following habits: ferns; sedges and grasses; creepers, climbers and lianas; herbs and subshrubs; trees and shrubs.
"This is the book of the decade for a tropical African botanist like me. Nothing like it has been seen before. It has value for all interested in identifying vascular plants in tropical Africa, especially in woodland areas. [...]
This book will be of interest for anyone interested in identifying plants species, from tourist to researcher who is visiting not just Mutinondo but anywhere in Zambia. The introductory chapters provide valuable context for the main body of the book. The book will be useful across tropical Africa for identification to genus, after all, 611 genera in 143 families are featured with numerous detailed high quality photos: many of these genera also occur in West Africa, for example.
Whilst similar books have been produced for selected areas in South Africa, this is the first time a photoguide has been published for any area in tropical Africa with high quality photos of every species present and linked to authoritatively identified herbarium specimens. 4890 specimens were collected in preparation for this book.
The book is based heavily on the work of the nearly complete Flora Zambeziaca programme which has laid the foundations for accurate identification of the plant species in most of South-Central Tropical Africa.
This tremendous achievement does great credit to the authors – Lari Merrett who has co-managed the Mutinondo Reserve for many years, and Kaj Vollesen, a vastly experienced taxonomist of tropical African plants based at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew."
– Martin Cheek, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
"[...] To be honest this is one of the most illustrated field-guide I have seen in recent years from tropical Africa. This is a book written by Lari Merrett who dedicated oneself to documenting the beautiful resources of the miombo woodland over many years and the taxonomist from Kew, Kaj Vollesen with deep knowledge and expertise on the plants of tropical Africa from Ethiopia to Zambia. The book not only provides information to be used for identification of the plant resources by conservationists , amateur and professional botanists and students visiting Miombo woodlands, this book is also very useful in the identification of plants in the rest of tropical Africa as some of the species are not restricted to the Miombo woodlands in Zambia, but across the dry lands tropical Africa.
I recommend this important book is available in Libraries of academic institutions, in the hands of individual botanists, conservationists, nature lovers and tourists visiting the area."
– Sebsebe Demissew, The National Herbarium, College of Natural and Computational Sciences, Addis Ababa University