If you are familiar with Plant Identification Terminology by Harris & Harris (2001) and Hickey & King’s The Cambridge Illustrated Glossary of Botanical Terms (2001), you may be wondering how this new book compares to these two informative and indispensable standards. Allow me to come right out and say you can confidently add A Botanist’s Vocabulary as the third informative and indispensable standard to your botany-art library.
The key difference between this new title and the older titles is its focus. Co-authors Susan K. Pell and Bobbi Angell write for a general audience instead of an audience of mostly botanists. The authors have thoughtfully written A Botanist’s Vocabulary to to serve as a user-friendly reference for all plant enthusiasts. In the introduction, Pell and Angell explain:
We have attempted to define terms used by botanist’s, naturalists, and gardeners alike to describe plants. We have simplified and clarified as much as possible to encourage the use of a common language. The included terms mostly refer to plant structures and come from the horticultural and botanical literature and practice.
It is important to note the authors’ focus on practice. This new glossary features not only plant morphology terms, but terminology from many disciplines. In addition to words like scape, locule and whorl, are terms from at least 11 areas within the natural sciences. Here’s a short list as an example:
- Soil science (e.g., calcareous)
- Molecular biology (e.g., chimera)
- Pollination biology (e.g., chiropterophily)
- Plant ecology (e.g., clinal variation)
- Plant taxonomy (e.g., conserved)
- Horticulture (e.g., cultigen)
- Genetics (e.g., hybrid swarm)
- Tissue culture (e.g., explant)
- Orchidology (e.g., keiki)
- Ecology (e.g., myrmecophyte)
- Biogeography (e.g., paleotropics)
You will not find terms like these in Harris & Harris (2001) or Hickey & King (2001). The inclusion of terms such as these helps readers see beyond the morphological features of plants and beyond botany.
Bobbi Angell’s illustrations teach as much as they explain.
- How changing the weight of a line portrays form (see all illustrations)
- How massing leaves can relay form and density (e.g., see canopy)
- How stippling can be used in line drawings (see all illustrations)
- How plants can be drawn in a lively and organic way (e.g., see capitulum)
- How depth and fullness are possible in line drawings (e.g., see mericarp)
- How grounding a specimen and showing how it grows can be accomplished with a minimal amount of stippling (e.g., see caudiform)
I could go on and on because there is something to be learned from each illustration. However I will not do this. I will instead encourage you to explore this new resource yourself.
A Botanist’s Vocabulary can be purchased online from your local bookstore.
Harris, James G., and Melinda Woolf Harris. 2001. Plant Identification Terminology: An Illustrated Glossary, 2nd ed. Spring Lake Publishing, Spring Lake, Utah.
Hickey, Michael, and Clive Kind. 2001. The Cambridge Illustrated Glossary of Botanical Terms. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K.
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