PACSOA - Cultivated Palms of the World
Book Reviews
Cultivated Palms of the World

Cultivated Palms of the World
by Don and Anthony Ellison
Published by UNSW Press

The aim of this book as stated in the introduction is to 'create a photo dictionary' in which each typical page contains four pictures of different palms with a caption under each picture supplying basic information. This includes the botanical name, common name, origin, growth habit, size, growing conditions fruit and seed details, and estimated time for germination of seeds. 'Basic' is the operative word here as the information is contained in just seven or eight lines of half page column.

The size information is somewhat vague and cultivation information generally confined to climatic preference, sun or shade, and watering requirements.

In some cases this information is not correct, e.g. single trunked Laccospadix australasica needing full shade to filtered light while in fact does very well in full sun, Oraniopsis appendiculata needing a tropical climate, when it does well in cooler climates, and in my experience has not been the least damaged by quite severe frost, and Chamaedorea metallica requiring slightly alkaline soil. It does very well in relatively acid soil.

The authors' expectation is that this book will become the 'definitive palm reference book' but in my opinion this is rather too ambitious for a book with such limitations. David Jones' book Palms Throughout the World deals in much greater detail with a greater number of species and is very much more informative. This book contains more pictures than Jones and by illustrating every species dealt with is useful in showing what the palms look like. It has a very good selection of Calyptrocalyx and Dypsis species and in this respect is the most up to date book currently available.

For those who like growing palms this is a well illustrated book providing at least some information on many species for which any information is rather hard to get.

Reviewed by: Will Kraa (from Palms&Cycads No. 71, April-June 2001)

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