Gil Nelson has done it again with his newest guide. A non-technical book on the ferns of Florida was long overdue. It is a much appreciated complement to his other two books on the flora of Florida, The Trees of Florida and The Shrubs and Woody Vines of Florida.
Like his previous books, he treats the 160 plus species of ferns thoroughly with easy to understand descriptions, distributions, and habitats. One of the selling features of all of Nelson’s books is his inclusion of how a species differs from other similar species. Another feature not included in many books is a brief description of interesting plant lore.
Excellent photographs and illustrations greatly aid in the identification of the ferns. His alphabetical arrangement of the families and genera is much appreciated by those of us who don’t know the phylogenetic arrangement of the plant kingdom. A key to the ferns families is included in the introduction of the book. Additional keys to various genera are also included. The appendices include a checklist of Florida fern species and an excellent bibliography.
Three minor suggestions for improvement would be:
- the inclusion of more illustrations, especially of the sori characteristic of each fern species;
- easier readability of the illustration and photograph numbers within the text description;
- and the inclusion of a ruler on each page for easy measurement of key characteristics. This was included in his earlier books, but was inadvertently omitted in the Ferns volume. Let us hope future editions will return the ruler to its rightful place!
All in all, if you are interested in learning the ferns of Florida, Nelson’s Ferns of Florida is an essential addition to your library.
Some of Gil Nelson’s other books:
- The Trees of Florida, Pineapple Press, 1994
- The Shrubs and Woody Vines of Florida, Pineapple Press, 1996