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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Poorly doneApril 8 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
I was very disappointed in this guide. I study ferns, so I have high expectations for field guides, and this met none of them. I find it very unlikely that it would be at all useful for someone who wasn't already familiar with the ferns of this area. The main problem is the level of illustration. There is only one - ONE! - photo accompanying each species, and they are smallish, about 3" tall by 2" wide. Below the single photo is a little paragraph about the species, and then on every single page, at least a third and up to a half of the page below the text is blank, white space. I was shocked by this! The decision to use the space this way would have been appropriate maybe for a coffee-table book, but this is a field guide! The point should be to get as much information as possible into a portable package so that people might actually be able to use the book to identify plants in the field. There's no way someone unfamiliar with ferns could competently identify them from these tiny, single pictures. They are all taken from far away, and I'll be the first to admit that many ferns look alike from 10 feet away. There should have been close ups of the individual fronds (leaves), and especially of the sori (reproductive structures on the undersides, usually, of the leaves). Sori are absolutely critical structures when it comes to identifying ferns, and it is appalling that the author did not include photos, or drawings at the very least, for every single species.
Further complaints: 1) There is a paltry glossary with drawings to illustrate some of the terms, like sori. This just isn't enough (and it's poorly organized), and again, it would be totally unclear to someone unfamiliar with ferns where the structures are to be found on a given species and how important they might be for identification purposes. 2) Many of the photos of the plants are bad. Quite a few of them show fronds that are browned and in poor shape. It's fine to include these to show what can happen to the plants at the end of the season, but when you've got only one photo of each plant, take the time and trouble to get a good shot! 3) At least one, and I think two, of the photos are the wrong species. The second species in the book is Asplenium trichomanes ssp. trichomanes, and the photo with it is NOT that. Or if it is, it's the weirdest and most bizarre one I have ever seen in my life. It was a terrible decision to include this photo which is either the wrong species or unlike what people would actually see if they found this Asplenium. The other one I take issue with is the photo for Diplazium lonchophyllum - I'm pretty sure the photo is of small Phegopteris ferns, a totally different genus. I could be wrong, but even if this photo is of Diplazium, it's showing a baby plant - again, when you're only including one photo, don't show what they look like only for a week out of the year. Show a mature one!
Overall, I wouldn't bother buying this book. I don't know of an alternative that is Louisiana-specific, but searching Amazon will turn up older guides for Florida and Georgia's ferns, which will probably have decent coverage. The best fern guide by far is the second edition of Peterson's field guide, which is ostensibly for the ferns of the central and northeastern US, but many of the species it covers can be found as far south as LA.