Field guide to Wild Flowers of South Africa

by John Manning

cover of wildflowers of south africaJohn Manning is a renowned botanist, botanical illustrator and flower photographer and a leading authority on South Africa’s rich and diverse flora. This new field guide to the wildflowers of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland is a bold undertaking and is lavishly illustrated with a wealth of stunning photographs. More than 1,100 flowering plants are described and photographed including all those most likely to be encountered by the wildflower enthusiast.

Manning briefly explains the four main floral regions of the Cape, the Greater Cape, the Karoo-Namib and the Swahilian-Pondoland and identifies within them nine vegetation biomes which he explores in greater depth; the fynbos, considered to be the richest temperate vegetation type on earth - colourful and fragrant and shaped by fire; succulent-karoo – the most botanically rich semi-desert in the world; nama-karoo, where shrubs burst into flower after rain; desert, where the dormant seed of opportunistic plants also spring into life with infrequent rainfall; savannah, the largest biome in Africa; grassland, where flowering plants thrive with annual burning; albany thicket which combines plants of neighbouring biome with subtropical forests; Indian ocean coastal belt with tropical forests of trees, lianas and epiphytes and finally Afro-temperate forests – all testament to the incredible diversity of southern Africa.

Despite the daunting challenge of identifying such a huge range of plants this guide provides the user with all the tools and information necessary to aid the identification of family, genus and species and for ease of reference the plants are divided into ten groups each containing families with similar characteristics. Distribution maps and flowering times are also supplied for each species.

With its tantalizing glimpses of the unique and colourful landscapes that grace South Africa, this book is much more than a field guide – it is a wonderful introduction to the beauty and diversity of the flowers in this amazing part of the world.

Available at many stockists including Amazon.

Reviewed by Shirley Walker, Eden Project, October 2009