Book Cover: An Illustrated Guide to Weed Seeds of New Zealand

Trevor James, Ian Popay, Paul Champion, Nik Grbavac and Birgit Rhode (2012)
ISBN 978-0-473-22410-3

Now for something completely different! How many of you have ever looked closely at the details of the seeds of weeds? Some, we admit, are rather boring but then again, some of them are absolutely stunning. A glance at the front cover of this book reveals some of huge variation in the size and shape of seeds. Most of the seeds described and pictured are of weedy species, and the pictures show clearly the adaptations that have evolved to ensure they thrive as weeds: hooks and spines to attach the seed to wool, fleece or socks to help spread; awns that twist with wetting and drying to help bury the seed and anchor it in the soil during germination; seeds so tiny they blow like dust in the wind, or larger ones with wings or parachutes so they float on air; corky seed coats that act as life jackets in streams and lakes.

This book will be useful for all workers in ecological research, pest plant management or, indeed, for everybody involved in agriculture or horticultural production. It is also of importance to anyone with a general interest in plants and the incredibly different forms that evolution has wrought. The book covers native and introduced species, and also includes seeds of species that have not, as yet, established in New Zealand but which have been intercepted in imported seed or other agricultural products (like cocopeat). The pictures and their descriptions are often not of the seeds as such, but of the form in which they are usually seen, surrounded by remains of flower structures that help in their survival or dispersal.

The Introduction, Identification aid and Glossary are followed by 116 pages with 696 superb photographs of 623 different species, all with a brief description and distribution information. The book is spiral bound, 144 pp, with full colour photographs.

The authors are Trevor James of AgResearch, Ian Popay from Landcare Research and Paul Champion from NIWA, all weed wizards; Nik Grbavac, seed specialist from Agriquality, Lincoln; and Birgit Rhode of Landcare Research. To find out how Birgit took those amazing photographs you have to buy this book!

RRP $49.99. Order from Touchwood Books.