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Book review – The Weed Book

Adam Woodhams

Adam Woodhams

June 10, 2012

The Weed Book – Identifying and removing weeds and introduced species from your garden by  Mark A. Wolff   New Holland Publishers www.newholland.com.au

The Weed Book by Mark Wolff, published by New Holland RRP $24.95

Format:   Plastic-sleeved soft-cover, octavo, colour images and line drawings throughout, 204 pages

Body copy:

It’s been quite some time since a quality accessible local volume on weeds has been produced so for us weed-nerds this book was well overdue. I have quite a love-hate relationship with weeds, as I do find them quite fascinating. As with any plant however there comes a time when you need to know what plant you’re staring at or, in the case of a weed, what plant you are throttling and cursing. With weeds and their treatment it’s all about ‘knowing your enemy’ and that’s where a book like this comes in.

The first edition of Mark Wolff’s The Weed Book was in 1999 and this imprint sees another 70 weeds added. This book is without question both comprehensive and well structured, it is logically laid out with the front section being a weed-to-a-page divided into sections – herbaceous plants; shrubs and trees; bulbs corms and tubers; vines creepers and trailing plants; grasses and sedges; palms. This allows you to quickly narrow your search if the weed you are looking at is unknown to you. Within each section the weeds are then ordered alphabetically by common name with full botanic family, genus and species name included for each plant. The information on each plant is very well detailed and includes the all-important information on how the plant spreads.

It’s at this point that I would make my only major criticism of this book. It’s logical to assume that if someone is using this book in the lecture room or the field they are doing so to help them ID a weed. When you don’t know where to start with an identification the first thing you look for is a visual comparison – a picture. Sadly many of the images in this book are really of quite poor quality – many shots are out of focus, don’t capture the primary characteristics of the plant or are just plain blurry. This isn’t a deal-breaker by any means as the rest of the book is of excellent quality, it’s just quite a shame to see an otherwise great text let down by one of its core elements.

A sample page of The Weed Book by Mark Wolff, published by New Holland

After the weed catalogue section is the all important section on procedures for eradicating the various weeds covered in the book. This section is ordered in the same manner as the weed finder, by growing habit – herbaceous plants; shrubs and trees etc and is illustrated with line drawings to clearly demonstrate the techniques. It covers both hand-weeding and herbicide methods.

The Bottom Line

If you are working in the field and deal regularly with weeds, work or volunteer in bush regeneration or similar areas or are studying or researching then this book will serve as an invaluable handbook, I can already picture dog-eared, sun-bleached copies of it sliding around on the dash of utes around the country.

The images are a bit of a let-down and may decrease its usefulness for home gardeners or absolute beginners but the quality of information makes up for this shortfall.

Where To Buy:   Booksellers and larger department stores nationally or online from the publisher www.newholland.com.au

Expect to pay:   $24.95

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