As detailed in the preface, the first edition of Trees of the Garden Route was published privately by the author in 2011 and sold out within five months. Thus, this second edition, now published by Briza Publications, is likely to be welcomed by many enthusiasts of South Africa’s amazing flora, The book covers about 110 species of indigenous trees (more than 10% of the national total) that may be found along the Garden Route, between Storms River and Mossel Bay. It includes more than 1800 colour photographs of the trees, trunks, leaves and fruit – all very useful for assisting and confirming the identification of a particular tree species.
The ‘Tree Key’ is an especially unique and useful feature of this book, and is a tool which greatly aids in tree identification. Developed by the author, Elna Venter, the key has a particularly ‘visual’ aspect to it, through the use of simple, clear diagrams and colour photographs of the different types of leaves. The terminology of leaf morphology is accessible and is explained in a manner that even novice tree enthusiasts would find easy to understand. For example, diagrams are provided which clearly explain whether a leaf is a simple leaf, a leaf with three leaflets, a compound leaf, or a palmate leaf.
Following the key, the tree species are arranged in alphabetical order, according to the scientific name. This is useful for quickly finding information on a tree that one may already be familiar with, or for finding information on related species. Each species entry covers two pages; one for the main body of information and a small distribution map, and the second for numerous photographs of the bark, leaves, flowers and fruit, as well as any additional information. The common names in English and Afrikaans are given (and indexed), as well as information on the family, an explanation of the scientific name and further details pointing out the characteristics for positive identification.
Overall, Trees of the Garden Rout has an excellent layout and contains a wealth of information. It would indeed be a useful book for nature enthusiast, gardeners and botanists in South Africa-particularly those with an interest in the region of the Garden Route.