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Geology and Plant Life: The Effects of Landforms and Rock Types on Plants

Geology and Plant Life: The Effects of Landforms and Rock Types on Plants
Arthur R. Kruckeberg
University of Washington Press
Publication Date: 

cloth, 362 p., $35

In his book Geology and Plant Life: The Effects of Landforms and Rock Types on Plants, author Arthur Kruckeberg summarizes much research in his work on the relationship of geology, geological processes, time and climate on plants. Professionals in geology, botany and related sciences will find this book fascinating. Those curious about the patterns of plants in a variety of landscapes will also enjoy this book, though some familarity with basic geological terminology will improve the general reader’s understanding. A good encyclopedia of plants would also be helpful for those not acquainted with many of the plants described. Black and white photographs and figures illustrate the text.

Kruckeberg focuses on "geoedaphics," which he defines as "the reciprocal interactions of topography (landforms), lithology and soils with floras and vegetation." He concentrates on unusual soil environments derived from parent mafic and ultramafic rocks on which unique endemic plants develop. For example, some plants are well adapted to soils with a high copper content, while others flourish in soils with high levels of chromium; copper and chromium would certainly be fatal to many species. The author makes a case for protecting unique landforms with their endemic species to encourage further research on the connections between plants and soils.

This is a fascinating book for the observant traveler who has noticed and puzzled about startling contrasts in vegetation between one side of a hill and the other. It is a book to be read slowly, to ponder and appreciate; a book that arouses curosity and provides explanations for vexing observations in the field.

— Elizabeth Tremulis, volunteer, Plant Information Office, Chicago Botanic Garden