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Deborah A. Metsger

Toronto, Royal Ontario Museum, 1990. 56pp, paper, $4.95, ISBN 0-88854-3484. (Text in English and French).
Distributed by the Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen's Park, Toronto, Ont. M5S 2C6. CIP

Reviewed by Peter Croskery.

Volume 18 Number 3
1990 May

In 1986, "poison information centres across Canada received 7462 calls about plants" and at present, "the Poison Information Centre at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto receives more inquiries about plants than about anything else." Since most of these callers have a very limited biological background, identification of plants must be done over the telephone, not an easy task.

Plant Alert outlines and illustrates some of the features crucial to proper plant identification. Secondly, it lists many of the common plants that have been most frequently the source of a poison. The book reviews plant hazards that occur outdoors as well as threats from house plants. In fact, "more poison information calls are received about houseplants than any other group of plants" and, as all parents know, few house plants are labelled as toxic.

The book concentrates on the identification of commonly occurring species, many of which are illustrated by photographs. Although it mentions some of the effects of the toxins plants contain, the book does not profess to serve as a medical reference. Also included are short warning chapters on the dangers of imported jewellery and ornaments made from plant parts and on herbal teas that may not contain complete information as to their contents.

This book is highly recommended to all parents, teachers and medical practitioners. The life it might help you save could be your child's!

Peter Croskery, Kenora, Ont.
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