Duck Duck Book

7 – plants of the pacific
01.10.2005, 12:05 am
Filed under: science

Plants of the Pacific Northwest coast : Washington, Oregon, British Columbia & Alaska / A MacKinnon; Jim Pojar; Paul B Alaback.
Edmonton ; Lone Pine Pub., 2004 Revised Edition.
[MCL has this book on order — the call number will be something like 581.979 P714 2004 — 22 copies, no holds]

This books is just a field guide to the plants of our region, but it’s a really nice one! It’s clearly written, logically arranged, well bound, and nicely illustrated. There is a big emphasis on ethnobotanical information — so the descriptions of edible or otherwise useful plants explain which Native American and First Nations peoples, or which immigrants from other regions of the world have traditionally used the plant, and for what.

The annotations are sometimes pretty interesting too. For example, in the notes about the Mock-Orange (Philadelphus lewisii), the authors attempt to explain the origin of the plants’ scientific name (p. 96):

“Aristotle gave the name Philadelphus to a tree, now unknown, to commemorate Pharoh Ptolemy II Philadelphus (308-246 B.C.). Somehow this name, which means ‘brotherly love,’ was applied to this shrub. It has nothing to do with the city of Philadelphia, where a whole block once burned after the police bombed a house to keep the peace.”

Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast has an extensive introduction, with maps and information on the coastal northwest of our continent. Each section begins with an identification key, and entries include habitat maps, photographs, information on the various parts of each plant, and notes on ecology, ethnobotany, the origins of non-native plants, and the origins of plant names. The main text is followed by a glossary, bibliography, and index.


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