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J. Ward-Harris.

Toronto, Oxford University Press, c1983.
242pp, cloth, $29.50.
ISBN 0-19-540437-8.

Grades 11 and up.
Reviewed by A. Louise Nordin.

Volume 12 Number 3
1984 May

From pen and palette, Ward-Harris has given us the inspiration to take at once a "looking" walk. Her stated purpose is to stimulate the interest of readers wishing to learn more about the plants they see, especially identification and correct names. J. Fenwick Lansdowne, noted painter of birds, believes that this book will do more: it will "quickly make wild-flower lovers out of the uninitiated."

Of the thousands of wildflower species, a selection was made of those most widely spread; most of those chosen grow in all four western provinces and in adjacent United States areas. Arrangement is by colour (white to cream, yellow to orange, red, pink, blue, purple to mauve, brown to green) rather than by family.

Though herself an accomplished flower artist and a keen student of botany, the author consulted other well-known experts; their help she unstintingly acknowledges.

Her introduction to this non-textbook arouses a new respect for plants. Conservation is not a stated aim but is an obvious side-effect. Where and how to look, what to look for, simple equipment, how to obtain seeds and cuttings, when and why not to pick, and more. Succinctly offered the novice are aspects of close species, plant differences and sizes, why plants have seasons, reproductive processes, classification and naming. Learning the Latin names may not be as easy as Ward-Harris suggests, but her explanation of the Linnaean system is adequate for the intended readership.

On quality paper are over a hundred full-page watercolours, exquisitely detailed to please the eye and aid identification. All were done from living wild plants. To ensure botanical accuracy, some species were studied further in top-rated wildflower gardens. Equally fine watercolours grace end papers and the author's introduction.

Facing each plate, in good-sized typeface, are the scientific name and its origin, the family, other names, height, habitat, season, variations, and other descriptive information. Well-researched plant lore is another more-than-meets-the-eye bonus, a plant's place in history, literature, art, medicine, or mythology: the reason "Achillea" is part of the correct name and "nosebleed" one common name, for yarrow; the reason Indians valued the lily commonly called bluebead; Geum uses varying from tea to tonic to pain-reliever to perfume; the herb that first appeared in Wycliffe's Bible in 1382.

Additional helps are the illustrated glossary, the list of selected references, and the comprehensive index of plant names. The latter will also help in comparing one family member with others. More Than Meets the Eye is not a definitive wildflower work, nor is it intended to be. Lively text, pleasing format, and fine art will delight mind and eye of the wildflower watcher of any age.

A. Louise Nordin, Edmonton, AB.
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