I decided on this occasion, that I must complete my intention to let you
know more about the new edition of Hal's authoritative work: 'The Flora
of New Brunswick', second edition, that became available in January.
I'm really pleased that Hal had the chance to complete this work, to
see it published, and to enjoy the accolades for a job well done. This
book represents a tremendous amount of his work aided by a number of
Hal's approach to nature is neatly summed up in what he wrote when
autographing our copy of his new 'Flora': "Learn them - Love them -
The original "Flora," published in 1986, stimulated a lot
of interest in the vascular plants (ferns and their allies, conifers,
and flowering plants) of our province. In the intervening years, Hal and
others discovered a lot more about our plant species, their status and
distribution. His objective this time was to update the earlier work by
incorporating that new information and utilizing the most current names
and classification. (Taxonomy evolves much more quickly than the
organisms do, as new studies -- and/or changing points of view -- alter
our understanding of biotic relationships.) As a result, we have a new
book that includes 1644 species (plus 285 extra subspecies, varieties
and hybrids) known to have been found growing in the wild in New
Brunswick, of which 88 species are new discoveries. The 1644 also
reflects a net gain of about 60 species over the first edition because
of taxonomic change (adding species that were split, subtracting ones
that were lumped).
To identify an unknown plant, users of this book have two main aids,
keys and illustrations. Plus, for perhaps a few hundred species, there
additional comments about distinctive characteristics that may be useful
for identification (e.g. about Calopogon: "Blooming from late June
to late July, this is the only pink orchid species with the lip in the
With an adequate specimen, the technically inclined can start from
scratch, if necessary, at the initial key to get to families and work through
numerous choices to the species. More often, already recognizing the
family or genus, one can start from the descriptive keys at one of those
levels. The less ambitious can match a specimen to the illustrations
and, when in doubt, refer to the keys for the group their plant
resembles. The illustrations, reproduced from Britton and Brown's 1913
classic, "An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States and
Canada," are useful, although in this edition they are even more
reduced in size than they were in the first edition.
The basic text for each species consists of the scientific name
(including author), the meaning of the specific name (e.g., palustre =
of marshes), and a brief statement of current knowledge of the plant's
frequency of occurrence and habitat within N.B. and its general
distribution. Where applicable, there are English and French common
names (more French names are included in this edition), and new this
time, Maliseet and Mi'kmaq names for 180 plants that have special
utility to man. Other additions are the conservation status rank of rare
plants, often the chromosome numbers, warnings about species that are
poisonous or may cause dermatitis, and notes on toxicity, edibility
(e.g., Amelanchier laevis fruits are "especially sweet and
A. canadensis ones "distasteful"),
hybridization, or first discovery of the plant in our province.
The layout of this book is much improved from the earlier edition.
Although fairly small, the type is good-looking and easily readable, and
the approximately 1000 distribution maps and 1500 plant illustrations
are integrated within the text instead of being placed in separate
sections at the back. This major improvement saves a lot of frustrated
flipping back and forth. I can get along well with the reduction of the
maps, but the drawings are more difficult for aging eyes to pick out
details without a hand lens.
Depending on how well the first-edition map conveyed a species'
distribution in the province, some maps are unchanged, some have one or
a few dots added, and a few have been greatly augmented. Maps are not
included for most common species that are found virtually throughout New
Brunswick nor for ones known from three or fewer localities, each of
which is mentioned in the text.
The keys and species accounts, the heart of this book, are supported
by a partially illustrated glossary of terms and a comprehensive index.
Appendices include: last-minute additions that didn't make the main
a table of the number of taxa by family (Asteraceae with 183 species is
the largest) and number of introduced species (23% overall); and lists
of plants believed to have been extirpated and lists of potential
additions--plants known from neighbouring regions but not here.
Two special sections contributed by other authors augment the
introductory information. First is Mary Young's history of New Brunswick
plant study that also graced the first edition. Then, a fascinating new
account by Stephen Clayden of the geological, climatic and historical
background and regional variation of our vegetation.
So far, I have used the new Flora mainly for browsing, picking it up
from time to time to scout for interesting notes that Hal has included,
for distribution patterns revealed by the maps, and for classification
changes that come as a surprise to me, whose knowledge of plants dates
principally from the 1960s and 1970s. Using it to identify some dried
grasses, I smiled at the discovery of the remark, "Good
luck!" beginning the keys to that rather difficult
family. Thanks, Hal, I needed it.
Sadly, it's now too late to get a personal inscription from its