If you have a recurring daydream about having a labeled leaf collection composed of perfect leaves that never wilt, dry, and get crunchy, stop dreaming. You can now take one step closer to making your dream a reality. Author Allen J. Coombes (Coordinator of Scientific Collections at the Herbarium and Botanic Garden of the University of Puebla, Mexico) and editor Zsolt Debreczy (Research Director of the International Dendrological Research Institute in Boston) have created a glorious collection of leaves.
Each leaf is actual size. Leaves are arranged by family, genus, and then species. Coombes and Debreezy provide an overview of leaf morphology and teach readers how to look at leaves and how to arrange them systematically. Each entry is accompanied by a description of a leaf’s type, shape, size, and arrangement along a stem. A summary about each tree’s bark, flowers, fruit, distribution, and habitat is also included. Information about each tree’s growth pattern, observable changes in leaf appearance, ethnobotanical use, and similarity to other trees is provided as well. Of interest to plant enthusiasts and botanical illustrators in particular, is the section in which the authors arrange leaves by their position along a stem, their overall shape, the type of margin they have, and the status about their evergreen or deciduous nature. Categories in this section are labeled as “Alternate, Simple, Lobed, Deciduous” and “Opposite, Pinnately Compound, Entire Leaflets, Deciduous” and contain corresponding photographs of leaves.
Not only is this book an informative reference, it is a great way for botanical illustrators to study venation patterns and leaf margins. One look at this book and you’ll be reaching for your 0.2 mm mechanical pencil!
The Book of Leaves is available at your local independent bookstore ($55).
Images used with permission from The University of Chicago Press