Grass Aloes in the South African Veld

Charles Craib and Umdaus Press have done it again! Grass Aloes in the South African Veld is a wonderful collection of field notes and species descriptions that makes for a wonderful read for those of us unable to get out into the veld. The watercolors by Gillian Condy and the pencil drawings by Murry Ralfe make this technical presentation a work of art as well. The book is large format, 23x32cm (9×12.5 inches) with 150+ pages, 59 paintings and drawings (although no photographs). In addition to a number of articles on habitat ecology 28 species are covered, each with a distribution map and a full page watercolor. The chapter Taxonomy and the sociology of botanical knowledge is a hoot. That is I had a lot of fun reading and thinking about what Craib has to say. He writes, "Families, genera and species are concepts defined by the purpose they serve in organizing and classifying knowledge. These concepts in botany need not be demonstrated empirically and their historical use in taxonomy is probably closest to an art form rather than a science." Oh?? So much debate, so much anxiety and ink spilt over classifications I had thought the battles were over scientific "truth". I guess I’m relieved that taxonomy is but a form of political science discourse. Well done Mr. Craib! Would you please give Haworthia a look?

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