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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Plants in Tropical Cities - The Tropical Plants ID Book and Plant Finder



BOOK REVIEW
Plants in Tropical Cities
by Boo Chih Min, Sharon Y.J. Chew, Jean W.H.Yong

I am so glad to get hold of a copy of the newly released "Plants in Tropical Cities". I find that it is a clear and concise handbook (or mini-encyclopedia) of tropical and sub-tropical plants. This book is 100% loaded with vivid and colourful pictures of plants and flowers found in tropical cities ...1 000 pages, 2 800 featured plants and 6 800 photos!

The aim of this book is to increase awareness among the general public and nurture interest in tropical plant species. This guidebook will be very useful to gardeners (green horns and green thumbs), horticulturists, landscapers, students and researchers who are keen on plant identification and understanding their growth requirements.


The authors:
1. Ms Boo Chih Min, is a graduate of botany from the University of Singapore. She is the author of the best-selling gardening book in our region, "1001 Garden Plants of Singapore". This book is also one of my favourite reference books for tropical plants.

2. Ms Sharon YJ Chew, a graduate of Applied Science, majoring in plants from the University of Queensland; and also in Horticulture and Landscape Management from Ngee-Ann Polytechnic Singapore.

3. Mr Jean WH Yong, an Associate Professor at the Singapore University of Technology and Design. He studied botany at the National University of Singapore; and biochemistry and physiology at the Australian National University.


In the first 867 pagers, plants are categorized by Scientific Name in alphabetical order.

Here's what I love most about the book: In the next section (page 875 to 979), there is an index of plants grouped into the different categories according to type and purpose, taking into account areas of specific interest such as indoor plants for the apartment dweller with limited space, and vertical or rooftop planting for the eco-gardener.
  1. Cycads
  2. Palms
  3. Ferns and Fern Allies
  4. Climbers
  5. Trees
  6. Ground Covers
  7. Hedges
  8. Plants that attract butterfly
  9. Plants that attract birds
  10. Indoor Plants
  11. Aquatic Plants
  12. Drought Tolerant Plants
  13. Fragrant Plants
  14. Seaside Plants
  15. Roadside Plants
  16. Plants for Green Roof Planting
  17. Plants for the Greening of Vertical Wall
  18. Epiphytes
  19. Mangrove and Mangrove Associates


For each plant species, there are pictures of the foliage, flowers and fruits highlighting important morphological characteristics. Information provided include the Scientific Name, Common Names and Synonyms if any. The common names are in English and where applicable, the Malay name and Chinese characters are also provided.



Pictorial icons are used to denote botanical information, characteristics, plant care requirements, planting guide and potential horticulture application.

What the symbols (picture icons) indicate:
  1. Plant habits: Trees, shrubs, climbers, ferns, palms, cycads
  2. Plant care requirements: Sunlight, watering
  3. Plant use/characteristic: Tropical native, plants suitable for roadside planting, seaside planting, aquatic plants, drought tolerant plants, indoor plants, ornamental flowers, ornamental foliage, herbs & spices, plants that attract birds or butterflies are all indicated by picture icons.
A summary of the genus names in alphabetical order is provided at the back of the book (page 982-989) for easy and quick reference.

What is missing from this book is the summary list of Common Names for plant species matched with the Scientific Names and the location page. This will be useful for the layman who only know the common name or local name and wish to find the scientific name of a particular plant. Also, the specific region or country of origin of each plant species is not mentioned but if the plant is native to Singapore and neighbouring countries, it is indicated with an icon depicting "Tropical Natives".


The good quality photos of plants and flowers are itself an attraction that motivates the reader to flip through the pages again and again to familiarize him/herself with the many tropical plant species that are commonly found in our region. Like the saying. "a picture speaks a thousand words", therefore with the clear and comprehensive method of presentation, it makes the plant ID learning process so much more interesting and simplified. The authors' passion for tropical plants identification and flare for photography is clearly exhibited in every page.

I would like to emphasize that it is good for the gardener to know the scientific names of the plants that we want to grow. If we know the scientific name, then we can search for more details about the growth requirements, specific needs and habit of the plant. This will increase our chances of success in growing the garden plants that we like. It will also reduce our tears of plants dying on us suddenly, seemingly without reason. Do be brave and adventurous to try out as many plants as you can. After all there is nothing much to loose but our time and efforts. The wealth of knowledge and experiences is the soul enriching and happy reward....Elaine Yim

Updated on 13 Sept 2014
This book is published in Singapore. The normal price is SGD 60 and during the Singapore Flower Festival, it was sold at a special price of SGD 48.

The recommended retail price in Malaysia by own collection is RM 150.00.

At the moment, it has not reached the bookstores in Malaysia yet. Malaysians who would like to purchase this book at a special introductory price of RM 120.00 for own collection within the Klang Valley and while stocks last - only 50 copies left or 31st October 2014, whichever date is earlier) can send an email to me at mynicegardenblog(at)gmail.com.

Postage charges (minimum RM 20.00) applies for postal deliveries outside Klang Valley.