John Manning has revised and improved the Field Guide to Wild Flowers of South Africa, which was first published in 2009. It is another ‘blockbuster’ of note from this talented author, with 487 pages of text and over 1,100 excellent photographs, almost all by the author. The independent countries of Lesotho and Swaziland (now eSwatini) are included in the geographic coverage. With some 20,000 species of wild flowers in South Africa, their identification is indeed a formidable task. The book features over 1,100 species, focusing on the most common, conspicuous and ‘showy’ flowering plants around the region. The introductory chapters deal with ‘floral regions’, ‘vegetation types’ and ‘the names of plants’. The next ten pages are about ‘how to use this book’, and then we get to the ‘species descriptions’. These are arranged in ten groups, and coloured tabs on the top right margin of the odd-numbered pages keep the species of each group together. The main part of the book comprises species descriptions, accompanied by excellent photographs, distribution maps, and a bar diagram to indicate months when the plants flower. This is an outstanding natural history book, a beautiful addition to the library of anyone who enjoys the outdoors and wants to learn more about our flowering plants.
Field Guide to Wild Flowers of South Africa is published by Struik Nature, an imprint of Penguin Random House South Africa (Pty) Ltd, Cape Town. Soft cover, 15×21 cm, 487 pp, illustrated in colour throughout with photographs, distribution maps and sketches. ISBN 978-1-77584 -676-5. R390