My Book Recommendations

My Book Recommendations

There are many good books about plants, only a few are listed here, but these books are those that I've found particularly useful.

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The Wild Flowers of the British Isles

 by David Streeter, illustrated by Ian Garrard

ISBN 9781900732031

A modern and well illustrated flora.

The Wild Flowers of the British Isles

The Wildflower Key

 by Francis Rose, revised and updated by Clare O'Reilly

A guide to over 1,600 wild plants found in Britain and Ireland. Designed for beginners, conservation volunteers and amateur wild flower lovers but also invaluable for professional ecologists. The only field guide that combines comprehensive keys with colour illustrations. It bridges the gap between picture guides and academic floras.

The Wild Flower Key

Field Guide to Orchids of Britain and Europe

 by Karl Peter Buttler

A user of the Reticule recommended this book to me. It covers approximately 250 species of Orchid, including all those that live around the Mediterranean. Each species is covered in some depth, with superb photography demonstrating the variation of characters within species. The author is German and the book has been translated and revised for an English readership. I found it particularly interesting as it gives you an appreciation of how elements of our flora are distributed globally. It is a must, whether you are an orchid-hunting nut or a plant-lover on holiday.

Field Guide to Orchids of Britain and Europe

Grasses, Ferns, Mosses & Lichens of Great Britain and Ireland

by Roger Phillips & Sheila Grant

These interesting groups of plant are often overlooked in other books. Complicated keys and wordy botanical description can easily put off interested beginners. This book has none of that, but does have high quality photographs that enable beginners to identify all but the most obscure species.

Grasses, Ferns, Mosses

New Flora of the British Isles

 by Clive Stace. Illustrated by Hilli Thompson

Perhaps the standard work on the identification of British plants. A must for anyone seriously interested in the British flora. It has the most comprehensive coverage and up to date taxonomy. Not a book that can be easily carried in the field and although there are many illustrations, this is not a picture flora.

New Flora of the British Isles

The Concise British Flora in Colour

 by W. Keble Martin

Contains some of the best illustrations of the British flora there are. This book may be out of print, however, it is well worth seeking out. In 1982 a new addition was published under the title "The New Concise British Flora". It contains the same illustrations, but with some updates to the text.

The descriptions of the plants are brief and there is no key.



 by C.E. Hubbard, J.C.E Hubbard

A comprehensive book which is well researched. Clearly written with expert knowledge of grasses. Written for serious botanists and impenetrable to anyone new to identifying grasses. Move on to this book once the basics of grass identification have been learned.

In addition to a standard key, there is also a key to the common species based on vegetative characteristics. Also another key is based on seed characteristics.


Flowering Plants of the World

 edited by V.H.Heywood

This reference book describes over 300 families of flowering plant. The scientific language is relaxed which will suit both amateurs and students. Having said that, it is nonetheless accurate and informative. The illustrations are plentiful, as are the distribution maps.

Flowering Plants of the World

The Flora of Hampshire

 by A. Brewis, P. Bowman and F. Rose

Hampshire has perhaps the largest and most diverse flora of any county in Britain. Although this book might seem of limited interest to those outside Hampshire it is packed with information and is a fine example of a county flora.

the flora of hampshire

Flora of Northumberland

 by G.A. Swan

Another superb county flora, containing a wealth of information on the flora of Northumberland, past and present.

A nice feature is the inclusion of transparent overlays, which can be used with the distribution maps to compare plant distribution in grid squares with altitude, geology, rainfall and average temperatures in those squares.

Flora of Northumberland

Flora of Cumbria Comprising the Vice-counties of Westmoreland with Barrow in Furness

 by G.Halliday

Cumbria is blessed with a wide variety of habitats from the extensive salt marshes and dunes to the windswept mountains and moors. Numerous, rare plants have outposts in Cumbria and a few are found nowhere else in Britain.

This book comes in both hard and soft back. There are some nice illustrations and excellent distribution maps. They show elevation, rivers and lakes in addition to distribution. This book only covers the vascular plant flora, but does so comprehensively.

Flora of Cumbria

Flora of Glamorgan

 by A.E. Wade, Q.O.N. Kay, R.G. Ellis

Not an area of the country known for it plants, but this is perhaps surprising. Eighty percent of the vascular plants recorded in Wales have been recorded in this county. This book covers higher plants, mosses, liverworts and lichens of Glamorgan. There are some useful introductory chapters on habitats and geology of the region.

This Flora is better prised than many county Floras. However, I expect the lack of many illustrations and the fact that the distribution maps are all at the end of the book, reflect the economies made to keep the cost down.

Flora of Glamorgan

Flora of Dorset

 by Humphrey Bowen

The most complete county flora I've seen. Not only does it have a full account of the vascular plants of Dorset, but also lists of the Mosses, Liverworts, Fungi, Lichens and Algae. It is not a cheap book, but it does include some colour plates of the local habitats and rare plants. It also has introductory chapters on the county's climate, geology and vegetation history.

Flora of Dorset

Flora of Norfolk

 by Gillian Beckett

The Flora of Norfolk is easily the equal of the Cumbria Flora in all respects . Decorated with gorgeous photographs and clear type, the whole book feels right when you take it from the shelf. The species accounts are always interesting and frequently thought-provoking, coming as they do from a genuine hands-on botanist. The maps are a revelation, with each dotty diagram having a carefully selected background appropriate to the distributional factors. The introductory sections are written by a variety of specialists and without fail they put the county and its habitats in an historical context which illuminates the present situation.

Reviewed by Ray Hobbs


The Flora of Oxfordshire

 by John Killick, Ray Perry, Stan Waddell

As you might expect covering the distribution and occurrences of plants in Oxfordshire. However, there are also chapters on the local habitats, the geology, Paleobotany, climate and soils. Unlike, some Flora this book covers Liverworts and Mosses comprehensively.

Nice features of this volume are the beautiful illustrations and photographs. The only downside is the price.

The Flora of Oxfordshire