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Reviews of Aloes: The Definitive Guide

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Book Profile
Author (1): S. Carter
Author (2): L.E. Newton
Author (3): J.J. Lavranos

Hardcopy edition:
Publish date: August 2011
Published by: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
List price: $153
ISBN Number: 1842464396

Categories:

Hard-cover

  Feedback History and Summary  
2 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Comments:

RatingAuthorContent
Positive palmbob On Aug 17, 2011, palmbob wrote:

This has been a long-awaited compliation and encyclopedia of aloes and it has been worth the wait. It has photos of nearly all the species in the book, though some of the photos are somewhat lacking in quality. Almost all photos are of plants in nature which is amazing. However, it would be nice to have some photos of plants in cultivation as it turns out many species look very different (and much nicer even) with a little TLC. Hard to complain about what there simply hasn't been up to know. This totally replaces Reynolds as the only existing 'complete' book on aloes. The study of aloes, as with almost any plant, is an ongoing thing, though, and there are a number of species that have not been included at least in the main part of the text. However, there is an adendum that discusses most all these 'new' species (no photos, though).

My two main complaints of this book (aside from the lack of cultivated plant photos) is 1) there is no listing of synonyms are any easy way to look them up. There are SO many synonyms in the aloe world that it is quite frustrating trying to keep up with what is what. I have heard there is a book coming out soon to remedy this, though.... and 2) the book is organized somewhat randomly with plants in groupings, such as grass aloes, spotted aloes, stemmed aloes... only some plants fit multiple groups and I do not see the logic for putting some in one group versus another. And within each group, aloes seem to be completely randomly listed, not grouped by appearance or relationship as I would have expected. Personally, I would have listed plants alphabetically and skipped the artificial grouping. The way it is now, there is way too much looking up in the index for things that really needn't be that way.


On August 17th, 2011, palmbob added the following:

Another complaint I have is with the index, which is imperfect -mistakes either in page numbers or incorrect \'bold\' print. This is particularly a problem due to the seeming randomness of the species in the book, so when there is an error in the index, it really causes problems. For example, Some page numbers are wrong (eg. Aloe albida), and sometimes multiple page numbers are in bold (bold represents the page with the photo on it, I think- eg. Aloe bakeri) without corresponding photos, and some plants lack photos, so no page numbers are in bold, making one have to look up every page number to find the plant (eg. Aloe buchlohii which has half a dozen page numbers but only one represents the discussion of this plant... you have to sift through them to find the right one). If one is going to randomize plants in a book, one really needs to have an index that is user friendly!
Positive Baja_Costero On Jul 28, 2011, Baja_Costero wrote:

Comprehensive aloe reference guide geared toward identification of species. Most of the book consists of listings of hundreds of individual species and varieties, complete with detailed botanical descriptions, very helpful photos of plants and flowers, and information about where they are found in nature. Plants are grouped by growth habit and type of inflorescence, and each section has a step-by-step key which can be used to identify individual species based on physical features.

The introductory text includes a very detailed history of aloe exploration and discovery. There is also a brief section on cultivation, but the book does not provide much information about how to grow these plants. It also does not cover the many aloe hybrids out there.

I found the organization of the individual species somehat unintuitive. Most of the time you'll have to use the index to find a particular species you're looking for. But there does not seem to be any logical way to systematically list all the different aloes out there, and it's better to organize them by physical features than alphabetical order.

Overall this is an excellent reference that fills a big gap in the literature. Most botanical terms are defined and/or illustrated with line drawings, which makes the highly specialized terminology in the descriptions accessible to amateurs.


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