Date of this Version
Published in Great Plains Research 20.1 (Spring 2010): 138-39.
At last: a book dealing with numerous Texas plants that is neither a field guide nor a dry litany of ethnobotanical uses. Remarkable Plants of Texas is an easy, informative, and enjoyable read. Its 65 entries cover over 80 species of some of the most common, well-known, and well-used plants of Texas (many of which also occur in the southeastern or southwestern United States or Mexico). The short (four- to eight-page) chapters are grouped by life form: trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants (also including cacti, grasses, vines, and aquatics). Although most treatments are about a single species, a few cover several species within the same genus, either for reasons of similarity or because of difficulty in distinguishing between species. There is at least one color photograph for every treatment (my only disappointment with the book is that some photographs are poorly focused).
At the beginning of each treatment, the origin of the scientific name is provided along with multiple common names, family, simple description, habitat, and distribution information. While the volume’s primary focus is ethnobotanical (prehistoric to present), there is also information on history (both natural and human), culture, wildlife uses, ecology (both at the single species and community level), conservation, toxicology, paleobotany, geology, etymology, interesting tidbits, folklore, and even folk songs!