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Flowers of the Western Himalayas

Flowers of the Western Himalayas. Rupin Dang. Indus, Harper Collins, New

Delhi, India, 1993. 140 pages, many color photographs.

This is a guide to a small area of the Himalaya but it covers the territory often visited by naturalists, trekkers and tourists. It is intended for amateurs but it should be helpful for professionals visiting the area for the first time. It is not intended to be comprehensive but includes many herbs, shrubs and trees that have conspicuous flowers. It is of pocket-book size and is suitable for carrying in the field.

All the main species are illustrated with color photographs and these are the features that users will turn to for plant identification. The photographs are good and usually show details of the flowers clearly. In many cases, the leaves are obscure or not shown at all. However, the text often gives description of the leaves. It also gives the approximate flowering time and habitat. Some of the illustrations also include views of the mountains and valleys and should be helpful for anyone wishing to have an understanding of the Himalaya.

A user wishing to identify a plant will no doubt glance through the illustrations until a suitable picture is found. It would have been helpful if the illustrations had been grouped by color as is usually done in manuals of this kind.

Most amateurs prefer common names and find Latin names difficult or useless. The usual procedure is to give the common name first in bold type and then the Latin name in italics in smaller type. For example, Heracleum could have been Cow Parsnip. The plant looks very much like the Cow Parsnip of Mount Washington. If no common name is available, one might be invented. The native name might be used if it is not too difficult. I recommend this guide for anyone visiting the Himalaya.

Frederic L. Steele