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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

New Zealand’s Native Trees by John Dawson and Rob Lucas

When the revised version of New Zealand’s Native Trees arrived, I was immediately struck by the size of this comprehensive volume. It is – by weight – one of the largest books I have ever received. It is a tome, you might say – weighty not just by size but also due to the sheer volume, and value, of its contents.

The first edition of the book was released in 2011. The latest version has been completely updated and contains not just a description of numerous new species, bringing the total number covered to more than 320, over an additional 100 pages, but also now with 3200 photographs. And what photos they are. Stunning.

This book is a staggering resource for any person with an interest in New Zealand flora. And for those with little or no interest, it is possible this beautiful book will inspire you to look again at the beauty and diversity of our native plants.

I’ve been fortunate to travel widely throughout New Zealand and, as a professional writer working variously over the years in the fields of landscape design and travel, I’ve seen first-hand the spectacular diversity of the landscapes. But I still had no comprehension of the sheer number and spectacular variety of flowering plants inhabiting this country.

To the untrained eye, the New Zealand bush looks green. Not so when seen through the lens of Rob Lucas. And for this increased appreciation I thank him for the exquisite macro photographs which enable the reader to see the colour and form of the flowers through new eyes.

I will never look at common plants like Pittosporums in the same way again, now that I know that their delicate blooms in many colours rival the beauty of orchids. But the same is true for so many species, as highlighted by this book. As but one further example of the many possible, I would add the images of the flowers of the native wineberry – Makomako.

And then, when one is done marvelling at the magnificence of flora which once seemed insignificant, there are the shapes, colours and methods of dispersal of the seeds to consider. I also love the clear-cut images which highlight the shape of leaves and branches. I hope that these will not only prove inspiring but also an educational way to view the bush.

And for those considering the planting of a garden, I am certain that this book will improve both your knowledge and desire to use indigenous species, knowing that they will reward you visually in ways you may not have previously understood, while also providing an important habitat.

This is in every way a magnificent book; and I feel an immense privilege to now have it in my collection.

Reviewer: Peta Stavelli

Potton and Burton, RRP $130


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