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Reviews of The Aloe of Madagascar

Good Rating
Book Profile
Author (1): Jean-Bernard Castillion
Author (2): Jean-Philippe Castillion

Hardcopy edition:
Publish date: Month Unknown 2010
List price: about $100
ISBN Number: 9782746618725



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Positive palmbob On Feb 28, 2011, palmbob wrote:

I just got this book today (Feb 2011) and it has been one I have been anxiously waiting for for a while. So many new species of of Aloe have been discovered on Madagascar since Reynolds wrote The Aloes of Tropical Africa and Madagascar that Reynolds text has become a lot less useful (though it is still somewhat of a bible of aloes).

The book looks great, full of photographs- hundreds of beautiful colored plates of plants in habitat as well as a few in cultivation. It is bilingual so it is thicker than it needs to be as everything is written in both French and English (authors are French so I guess I should feel lucky that they decided to put in a translation as well). Organization is more directed towards the aloe scientist rather than the aloe collector, as it is divided up by regions of Madagascar rather than the more user-friendly listing in alphabetical order (oh well... guess this one's index is gonna wear out soon, too).

The descriptions, on the other hand, are quite user-friendly... almost too user-friendly with sometimes insufficient descriptional information to really help one differentiate certain species of plants. Also, the photos are often a bit small and less than ideal for identification purposes, though great for seeing what sort of ecological situation many of these aloes grow in.

Aside from many dozens of new and exciting species presented and illustrated, many of the current species of aloe we are more familiar with have been manipulated taxonomically- many lumped, and many more split. Thankfully, many of the lumped species still have a separate heading so one can still find them, complete with photos and description, but also with a comment of synonomy. At the end of each geographic chapter are listed a number of 'questionable' aloes- those that do not have a proper identification yet or might be hybrids.

By the end of the book, a lot of the aloes start looking the same to me, so I will need to go through it about 100 more times to finally work these species out (too many new ones really for me to memorize).

Near the beginning of the book there is an excellent section including an illustrated glossary and anatomy of aloes, as well as discussions of collecting, habitat destruction, medicinal uses etc., as well as some comments about the difficulty of aloe taxonomy (I hear you!).

I cannot find a publisher for this book, though I know there has to be one. All the 'technical' information is listed on the last page of the book (year and ISBN number) which threw me off... but if the publisher's name is there, too, my lack of French is keeping me from figuring out who they are.

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