PACSOA - Palms of the South-West Pacific
Book Reviews
Palms of the South-West Pacific

John L. Dowe and contributors.

The Publication:
210 pages (approx. )
Size: 26 x 19cm (10" x 71/2")
Colour Photos: 72 (approx. ) about 14 Full page.
Black & white Photos: 70 (approx. ) most full page.
Glossy Hard-Card Cover

Published by:
Palm and Cycad Societies of Australia (PACSOA)

Preparation for the book has involved extensive study trips by the author to the region to obtain a thorough first hand knowledge of the indigenous palms, especially rare species in remote areas, whilst maintaining a close liaison with experts in the field of palm botany and horticulture. As well, an extensive research of the available literature has resulted in the collating of precise locality, habitat and ecology data, and detailed, though not too technical, descriptions of all the 77 valid species.

The Photos:
The acquiring of the superb collection of photographic material to complement the text has also been an undertaking of some note. In all, there are over 140 photographs included in the book, most taken by the author especially for the work but others kindly donated by the twelve contributing photographers.

The Illustrations:
The excellent detailed illustrations of fruits and seeds, executed by a professional illustrator, adds another dimension to the descriptions as well as aiding in the identification of most species, especially when only fruits or seeds are available.

The Palms:
The book discusses the indigenous palms of Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Lord Howe, Norfolk and Raoul Islands and New Zealand. Most of the islands are covered in dense rainforest and support a rich flora of which the palms are generally an inconspicuous but integral component.

Presently, there are about 80 palm species known in the region, 77 of which are validly described. Most are typically arecoid with tallish slender trunks usually terminating in a crownshaft and pinnate leaves and flowers being unisexual. A lesser number are either coryphoid with palmate leaves, always lacking crownshafts and having bisexual flowers, or calamoids, being scaley fruited rattans with unisexual flowers or massive monocarpic palms with terminal infloresences, also with fruits.

The majority of the palms are endemic to small islands; a few species may be considered very rare, being known from only small populations with limited distribution. Very few could be considered to be common.

The Book:
The book is divided into several sections;

  • The Introduction
    • Geological History of the South-West Pacific
    • Geological Conditions Today
    • Climate
  • The Palms
    • Classification
    • The Subtribes
    • The Genera
      This descriptions of all the 77 valid species and notes on the 3 undescribed species, and data on locality, habitat and ecology. Keys to the Subtribes, Genera and Species (when the genus is not monotypic) are also included within the text.
  • Distribution
    • Distribution of Genera
    • Endemism in the South-West Pacific
  • Origins of the Palm Flora
    • Fossil Evidence
    • Origins from a Subtribal Overview
    • Common Names

  • The Appendices
    Unpublished articles and papers by palm botanists working in the region are also included.
    • Morphology, Ecology and Distribution of Palms in New Caledonia by T. Jaffre and J.M.Veillon of ORSTOM, Noumea, New Caledonia.
    • Uses of Palms in Vanuatu by P. Cabalion of ORSTOM, Paris.
    • Fijian Palms and Their Potential for Landscaping by R.H. (Dick) Phillips, Horticulturist, Suva, Fiji.
    • New Caledonia Palms in Cultivation by John L. Dowe.

One large detailed Map with localities referred to in the text, eight Subtribe Distribution Maps, and one detailed map of New Caledonia are also included.

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