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ASBS Newsletter – Book Review

The Names of Acacias of New South Wales.
With a Guide to Pronunciation of Botanical Names.

written by Norman Hall and L.A.S. Johnson.

(From ASBS Newsletter Number 74, March 1993)

Published by: Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. 1993.
69 pp. ISBN 07310-0118-4. $15.

This slim volume contains far more than an initial glance at its main title implies. It is of relevance to all of those people with an interest in botany, both professionals and nonprofessionals, regardless of the state in which they live.

The book is divided into two major parts, an introductory section dealing with the history of wattles and the, formation and pronunciation of their names, and a section dealing specifically with the names of all New South Wales taxa.

The first section contains a brief but comprehensive explanation of the "how and why" of the formation of botanical names, followed by a detailed exposition on the pronunciation of botanical names. The latter is the fruit of the second author's long interest in matters linguistic and nomenclatural. In the concluding paragraph, he states the "the foregoing may seem formidable at first sight", and this is indeed the case; but closer examination of the text shows that there are numerous examples that enable the reader more easily to grasp the point being made. This approach is a consistent one, but many will find, as I did, that some of their present pronunciations do not follow the traditional principles outlined here. Whether we strive to follow such guidelines or, as the writer says, "go with the crowd and admit that many a good rule allows occasions exceptions" is up to us.

The second major section of the book lists all of the names in use at the time this book went to press (lacking only A. bulgaensis and A. matthewii, published late last year). Each entry gives binomial (or trinomial for subspecific or varietal taxa), author, common name, guide to pronunciation, and derivation of epithet, whether from a classical source, a personal name or a geographlc name. In the latter cases, brief biographical or locality information is given. Although restricted in scope, this section covers such a wide range of epithets that it would be informative to any reader interested in the formation of plant names.

The book also includes a short glossary and bibliography, brief biographical notes on the authors of names in the book, and an illustrated guide to the groupings of species used in the Flora of New South Wales.

The book is attractively presented and production standards are high. I could find little in the way of errors or omissions, except that the treatment of subspecific and varietal taxa is somewhat inconsistent and the author of A. leiocalyx [(Domin) Pedley] is omitted.

In conclusion, this is a useful book that would be a valuable addition to any personal or institutional library.

Reviewer: Peter Wilson
National Herbarium of N.S.W.
Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney