Book of the Month for Feb 2015

Field Guide to Wild Flowers of Turkey, I, Bulbous Plants, L. Yasemin Konuralp. 2nd edition. Privately published, (May 2014) 484 pp., 552 color photos.

US $50 including shipping. Available at www.wildflowertours.com.

Field Guide to Wild Flowers of Turkey, I, Bulbous Plants
Wild Flowers of Turkey
Reviewer: 
Jane McGary

Author Yasemin Konuralp operates a guided tour service based in Antalya in southwestern Turkey. In the Foreword she writes that she began leading mountain treks and was drawn to botany through the interests of her British tourist participants. She then acquired a keen amateur’s knowledge of the subject and a large collection of very good plant photos, some of which appear here.

This is the first of a projected series of field guides. The book is softbound with a separate dust cover; I don’t know how well the binding will stand up to actual field use.

The Introduction briefly covers Turkish geography and the organization of the book. There is a useful map showing the provinces and incorporating an alphanumeric grid to which distribution codes in the plant descriptions are keyed, and a second map roughly depicting the phytogeographic regions of the country. A relief map would have been helpful.

The large section of color photos begins with a 2-page “key” showing typical flower forms of the various families to help the novice user get to the right place entirely through visual cues. The photo section is arranged by families. The running head identifying family should have been repeated on each page. The photos are almost all of good to excellent quality, clear and sometimes showing both close-ups of the flowers and the whole plants in habitat. The captions give the botanical names and the Turkish common names, and they appear to have been carefully proofread.

Following the photo section is the descriptive text, numerically keyed to the photos. Comparison shows that it is essentially a condensation of descriptions in the authoritative Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands (P. H. Davis, ed.; Edinburgh University Press, 1984). However, a number of species published since Davis’s work have been added, especially in Crocus (mostly from Kerndorff, Pasche, and colleagues) and Colchicum (mostly from K. Persson). The descriptions offered in the present book are, like those of the sources, technical, but a brief illustrated glossary is provided to help the botanical novice. The habitat and distribution notes are keyed to the map mentioned above but mainly drawn from Davis and later publications. Some of the entries include a “comment” line noting uses of the plants. No subjective comments or cultivation notes are given.

In addition to the Glossary, backmatter has an index covering botanical, English common, and Turkish common names, and a very short reference list including sources of personal communication, a couple of general books, and the Kew Plant List. Authorities and sources are not cited in the descriptive text; I had to look the recently published species up on the internet to discover these, a valuable exercise that led me to some unfamiliar websites and made me wish I had learned Turkish.

The volume takes a broad view of “bulbous plants” and includes many kinds of geophytes (plants that spend part of their annual cycle as underground storage structures), with representatives from, e.g., Epilobium, Oxalis, Paeonia, Globularia, Veronica, Primula, Thalictrum, Geum, and Viola, along with the usual suspects. The Orchidaceae have especially extensive coverage with helpful close-ups of the individual flowers.

This book is rather expensive, reflecting the large, mostly well done color section, but I recommend it to those who plan to visit Turkey to see wild plants, as well as to serious bulb enthusiasts. The latter may not be able to acquire the volumes of Davis’s Flora of Turkey relevant to their interest (thanks to Ellen Hornig for selling it to me!) , and Konuralp’s text is a decent substitute.

 

Jane McGary gardens near Portland, Oregon, and has specialized in growing bulbs from seed for the past 25 years. She is a former editor of the Rock Garden Quarterly and three NARGS/Timber Press books.      

 

[The book is available for purchase through the Author's website: www.wildflowertours.com.]