EC - Biological Sciences

Die Entdeckung der Pflanzenwelt: botanische Drucke vom 15. bis 19. Jahrhundert aus der Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg [Discovering the World of Plants: Botanical Prints from the 15th to the 19th Century in the Johann Christian Senckenberg University Library]. Ed. Berndt Dugall. Petersberg: Imhof, 2009. 255 p. ill. 28 cm. ISBN 978-3-86568-424-0 (Imhof); ISBN 3-935283-18-0: EUR 29.95

The 525th anniversary of the founding of the Johann Christian Senckenberg University Library was the occasion for an exhibition of books of botanical prints from the library’s outstanding collection, displayed in the Giersch Museum in Frankfurt am Main from 22 March through 21 June 2009. The beautiful exhibition catalog describes the 138 illustrated books, aquarelles, and drawings that were on display. Bibliographical description is kept brief, with information on authors, illustrators, and publishing history, as well as references to Claus Nissen’s bibliography Die botanische Buchillustration (Stuttgart 1966). In introductory texts, Bernd Dugall and Angela Hausinger offer a history of the university library, while Hans-Walter Lack gives an overview of the plant world and the criteria for evaluating botanical illustrations. A glossary, bibliography, guide to abbreviations, and index of persons round out the volume.

The title, Discovering the World of Plants, refers to the many voyages of botanical discovery undertaken outside Europe chiefly in the 18th and 19th centuries (a few titles are from the 15th-17th centuries). The emphasis is partially dictated by aesthetics: the beautiful color illustrations became so much more prevalent in the 18th century. One criticism of the catalog is that the illustrations are treated as single images, so that the context (a book illustration or a single-leaf print?) is not always clear. This well-produced catalog is surprisingly affordable. [ei/hh]

Botanik [Botany]. Eckehart Johannes Jäger, Stefanie Neumann and Erich Ohmann. 5th, updated ed., reprint. Heidelberg: Spektrum, Akademischer Verlag, 2009. xiv, 592 p. ill. 24 cm. ISBN 978-3-8274-2357-3: EUR 29.95

The present edition of this “brief textbook,” as it calls itself, is actually a reprint of the 5th edition (2003). Was there nothing new in the field of botany in the intervening six years to warrant a revised edition? Following a brief introduction to plants in the evolutionary context, the basic areas of chemistry fundamentals, cytology, morphology, histology, physiology are covered, as are also specialized botany and evolution. For some topics, such as plant geography and ecology, other works must be consulted, contradicting the claim of completeness in the jacket blurb. The chapters are clearly arranged and their content easy to understand; the illustrations are mostly black-and-white and often borrowed from other texts. The bibliography is adequate and the index is good.

As an introduction to the basics of botany, this book is recommended for entry-level college students of the biological sciences—especially as it is reasonably priced. [jr/hh]

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Last update: January 2013 [LC]
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