"Plant Families: A Guide for Gardeners and Botanists" by Ross Bayton and Simon Maughan (University of Chicago Press, $25): This practical and fact-filled book begins with a plant family tree that provides a visual overview of the basic order of plant evolution and the relationships between them.
A brief evolutionary history offers the reader a clear understanding of how plants came to have the level of diversity we see today.
Plant identification and anatomy are described in great depths.
The richest part of the 224-page book, for me as a gardener, is each chapter is focused on a plant family and contains useful information about the size, range, origins and anatomical features. The illustrations of plants and their anatomical parts are excellent. "Uses For" boxes offer helpful tips for everyday gardening use.
"Plant Families" ends with a glossary of botanical terms that is complete and well organized.
The authors have written an amazing guide filled with botanical information and exacting illustrations and diagrams. This book can help the gardener, botanist or horticulturist "make sense of -- and better appreciate-- the enormous biological diversity of the plant kingdom."
Written by Sally Peterson
Katherine Wagner-Reiss has her botany Certificate from the New York Botanical Garden, where she is a volunteer tour guide.