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Book review: Mistletoes of Southern Australia by David Watson

23 Oct 2019 11:35 AM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

Dick Turner reviews Mistletoes of Southern Australia by David M. Watson.

Eight years after the first volume, a second edition has been published on this interesting subject.

Cover of book Mistletoes of Southern Australia

From the start the author David Watson outlines that mistletoes are part of the natural environment, are not toxic, are not a weed, and are part of the Australian flora. Many books have the title of a genus or a group of plants, but only mention part of that group. This book contains comprehensive information on all 47 species of mistletoe that occur in Southern Australia – which is where the majority of the population of Australia live.

Mistletoes differ from other plants because of their habit of parasitising on a host plant, mostly a tree or a shrub. Mistletoe foliage, flowers and seeds are visited by many fauna and insects, thus benefitting the environment.

Of 1,500 species of mistletoe in the world, 97 occur in Australia but only four across all of Europe. The 47 species in this book are nearly half of the mistletoe species found in Australia.

The author uses cross referencing which allows the reader to follow a subject through various chapters in the book. Another innovation near the end of the book is a list of all the species in Australia showing the page number that includes definitive information assisted by a beautiful watercolour image or one of the 130 colour photographs.

The book is highly recommended for information, not just on mistletoes, but also for the natural history and environmental point of view. Members of APS could have this book on their shelves to complete their references on Australian flora.

Purchase details

The book is available from CSIRO Publishing or can be ordered through your local bookshop for $59.99.

Details here: publish.csiro.au/book/7857.

About the reviewer Dick Turner

Dick Turner has published two papers on mistletoe in forests as acknowledged by the author, following his research work in forests near Eden, NSW. As a life member of the Australian Plants Society NSW, Dick wrote an article Mistletoes are Australian Plants in Australian Plants journal, Autumn 2017 (Volume 29, Number 230).


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