13 APRIL 1956, Page 32


THE POCKET GUIDE TO WILD FLOWERS. By David McClintock and R. S. R. Fitter. (Collins, 25s.) THE only complaint I have against this book is that it should have been published about fifty years ago, when I began to botanise; it would have saved me many laborious hours. As a• guide to the identification of plants, which include sedges, rushes, grasses, and ferns, it is admirable; the writers seem to have thought of every- thing to make it easy. Best of all are the illustrations, 600 of them in colour, an astonishing number, and even more in black-and- white. And of course each plant is described in its parts, occasionally in a pleasant way, as when the seed-pods of bastard cabbage are said to be 'shaped like Chianti bottles.' The book is very comprehensive; the writers give a welcome to all sorts of `aliens,' naturalising even those who pay us occasional visits. And is it quite up to date; it tells us, for example, that the extremely rare soldier orchid grows in Suffolk, though there it was discovered less than a year ago. Containing the latest information about the very rare plants, it is of great interest to the advanced student. Perhaps there are one or two little sins of omission; goldilocks is said to grow on five cliffs along the west coast, but I saw it not long ago on Berry Head in South Devon. A different kind of Interest is in the English names. Some of these apear to have beta invented by the writers, as `moon carrot' for seseli libanotis and, happy name, `twinflower' for linnao; and while it is possible 10 find fault with a few, it would be a good thing, as supplying ! long-felt need, if they came to be regarded as the standard Enghsll names. That I make the suggestion indicates the great'importanee