A Natural History of Conifers

Front Cover
Timber Press, Jan 1, 2008 - Gardening - 304 pages
A compelling account of the extraordinary relatives of ordinary garden conifers.

Leading expert Aljos Farjon provides a compelling narrative that observes conifers from the standpoint of the curious naturalist. It starts with the basic question of what conifers are and continues to explore their evolution, taxonomy, ecology, distribution, human uses, and issues of conservation. As the story unfolds many popular misconceptions are dispelled, such as the false notion that all conifers have cones. The extraordinary diversity of conifers begins to dawn as Farjon describes the diminutive creeping shrub Microcachrys tetragona, whose strange seed cones resemble raspberries, and the prehistoric-looking Araucaria meulleri.

The taxonomic diversity of conifers is huge and Farjon goes on to relate how, over the course of 300 million years, these trees and shrubs have adapted to survive geological upheavals, climatic extremes, and formidable competition from flowering plants. All who seek to learn more about the early history of life on our planet will cherish this book.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

Foreword by William G Chaloner
9
Preface
10
introduction to Conifers
15
What Are Conifers?
16
The Image Problem with Christmas Trees and Hedges
22
Diversity Upheld Against the Odds
34
Will We Know All of Them?
42
The systematics of Conifers
51
Climbing the Giants
144
Conifer Geography
153
A Coniferous Island in the Tropics
154
Riding the Continents
166
The Success of Dispersal
175
Relicts to Be Discovered
183
Encircling the Great Eternal Ocean
192
Conifers and People
201

Who Is Related to Whom?
52
The Fragmented Tree of Life or Phylogeny Without a Past
55
More Genera Fewer Species
58
The Winnowing Task of the Monographer
62
A Classification Attempted Once Again
66
Conifers of the Past
73
All or Nothing About Ancestors
74
The Earliest Conifers
77
The Age of Conifers
83
Decline to the Present
93
The ecology of Conifers
101
Conquering Armies and Vast Empires
102
The Fortresses of Poverty
109
Outlive Your Neighbour and Take His Property
115
Imitating the Almighty Angiosperms
125
Facing the Enemy
134
The Woods of the World and Their Uses
202
Clothing My Estate
217
Conifers In and Out of Fashion
224
The Other Uses of Conifers
233
Conifers and Conservation
243
Extinction Is Forever
244
Why Conifers in Nature Are Important
251
A Pine in a Cage
260
The Conifers that Grow on Nickel
267
Evaluation of Threats to Species
274
Invasions
279
Appendix A Classification of Extant Conifer Families to the Genus Level
286
Glossary
288
References
294
Index
297
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2008)

Aljos Farjon headed the temperate section of the herbarium at the Royal Botanic gardens, Kew 1996–2006. He has published 10 books and more than 120 papers mainly, but not exclusively, on conifers. He is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, Chair of the Conifer Specialist Group of IUCN (the World Conservation Union) and a member of both the International Association for Plant Taxonomy and the Royal Horticultural Society’s Conifer Registration Advisory Committee.

Bibliographic information