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The Genus Lavandula

The Genus Lavandula
Tim Upson and Susyn Andrews
Timber Press
Publication Date: 

cloth, 442 p., $42.95

The genus Lavandula is a confusing family. There is vast diversity in species and subspecies occurring in the wild and in plants raised from seed in nurseries. In addition to this near infinite variety, juvenile and adult foliage varies, and climate and season can affect their habit, further confusing identification. Despite the difficulty in nomenclature, the genus Lavandula is favored commercially for its essential oils, and continues to grow in popularity with gardeners. The authors, Tim Upson and Susyn Andrews, have taken on the enormous taxonomic task to sort out the 40 species and their cultivars and hybrids in this comprehensive reference that truly rates as a classic for this important genus.

The genus has been long in cultivation according to the authors, who traced its lengthy history to the global distribution of commercial growers and distillers of lavender oils. In the text, lavenders are divided into four groups, each requiring different care, so correct identification of a plant is essential. An excellent section on plant cultivation and propagation, as well as pest and diseases, precedes chapters on the study of plant morphology and different topics in plant chemistry. Much of the book relates to taxonomy and identification of individual species, hybrids, and cultivars. Superb paintings and drawings complete the text. The appendices that follow have many useful additions, including a bibliography, glossary, and index.

— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden