Cycads of Thailand
Authors and Details: William Tang, Si-Lin Yang and Poonsak Vatcharakorn.
Soft cover; 90 gms;
34pp; 20 colour pages;
This small book, is based on the recent work by Ken Hill and Si-Lin Yang and therefore gives popular access to the latest information on these cycad species. After an introduction including classification, insect pests, pollination, a key to the Thai species, and a table comparing leaves and seeds, two or three pages are devoted to each species or subspecies. In this section of the book them are for each species several good quality colour photographs including at least one of a plant in its habitat as well as a small location map. The text gives an explanation of each name, distribution and habitat, description of stem, leaves, and cones, affinities, cultivation, and conservation status.
Of the ten species and two subspecies nine are recently described, seven of them by Ken Hill and the other two by him with the authors of this book. The material in this book is much more up to date than David Jones's "Cycads of the World" which was written before most of the Thai species were described. Jones generally gives somewhat more detail but since a number of species have been separated from C. pectinata his information on this species is not necessarily applicable any longer and is in conflict with some of the statements in this book. Jones for instance writes about C. pectinata that it grows in mountainous areas up to 600m altitude and that its stem is to 4m high and 30cm across where this book states that it typically grows above 600m altitude with one population at 1200m elevation and that stems are 10m or more high and 1 m across at the base. There is one statement in this book which does seem to be mistaken when it says that C. pectinata is the tallest of all cycads with one specimen measuring 16m high. What about Lepidozamia hopei and Dioon spinulosum ? It would no doubt be correct to say it is the tallest of all Cycas species and maybe that was what was intended.
The key is useful in identifying some species in that it has been designed with cultivated plants in mind but in some cases mature specimens are required for proper identification. It may be that it would be necessary to know first that a species to be identified is from Thailand. After using the key on some plants in my collection I now know that some of them are not what they were supposed to be.
I am sure that this small volume will be very useful to anyone interested in cycads and will be helpful in checking on information presented in other books which are not so directly based on local knowledge and fieldwork.
Contributed by: Will Kraa (from Palms & Cycads, No. 57 Oct-Dec 1997).