Thursday, June 28, 2012

An Excellent Read: Mesembs of the World

"Mesembs of the World" was penned by a host of well-known authors- Smith, Chesselet, Jaarsveld, Hartmann, Hammer, van Wyk, Burgoyne, Klak, and Kurzwell. Each one has a great love and huge store of knowledge about our favorite plant family- the Mesembs! Published by Briza in South Africa in 1998 in English, this substantial book has over 400 illustrated pages of pretty much every mesemb known to people at this point.

The book is divvied up into types of mesembs, such as "weedy", "tongue-leaved", and so on. This can be either useful or frustrating, depending on whether you want to look up an identified plant (frustrating), or are trying to identify some cool plant you just found (useful)! But if you're trying to find info on Aloinopsis, for example, there's a handy index in the back.

Each plant is described thoroughly and succinctly with excellent instructions on how to grow it at home. Even recommended soil types are given. The photography of each plant in its native habitat is extremely helpful. Each genus has a map to show where it grows, and a complete list of species.

It took me a while to find a copy of this but I'm so glad I did, it's really a treasure trove of information, and it's just a lot of fun to read!


  1. Book is getting a little old now, but a great reference and one of my first proper mesemb books. Steven Hammer is busy developing a new range of books on Mesembs, which should be exciting. But as proper intro, a great book for sure.

  2. Yes, it's over a decade old now, but there are few books on the subject, and this one is really beautifully done. I can't wait to see the new Hammer books! Do you know when they'll be available??

  3. I think the titanopis one is done! Checked - yes Mesembs: The Titanopsis Group, by Steven A Hammer in in the process.

    Just to make it clear, I LOVE my Mesembs book, it is a great book and covers a lot. The new books will be more in-line with comprehensive works on mesemb genussus (not sure if that is correct)! Not always what a novice would want (not referring to you, Marla LOL!), but then I have one of his Conophytum books and that does include all types of readers, so this may as well. He is excellent and I have always just had fun with my dealings with him - he is a tree of knowledge in the field for sure.

    I do get cross (maybe its me) but the Illustrated Handbook of succulents plants: Crassulaceae, I just got from a US friend, because she did not care for pages and pages of technical info, here the name should also have been Comprehensive Handbook, I love it, but read the info with my biological dictionary, LOL! Anyway, I am off the point you made - LOVE Mesembs book, have used it for many years, never far from my desk, great book for quick reference. Pheew.

  4. I only have this book digitally but I've checked infos on the plants I have there. Very nice :)

    Oh my, the S. Hammer book is expensive!! It's surely an interesting read but not affordable...

  5. Little Expanded,
    A book on Titanopsis is coming? Woot woot! And yes, I think the Mesembs book is going to remain on a lot of gardeners' reading lists for awhile, it's so comprehensive, and so nice to look at!

  6. Rika,
    I found a copy of the Hammer book for over $400. Yikes! Maybe when my investments start earning again....;-)

  7. And there is the problem with specialized books - they cost an arm and a leg. That is why Mesemb and General C&S books will always find a market. I do have about 4 or 5 of them now (general C&S) and I use all of them, looking for info when I do a "focus on" blog.

  8. Talking about old books, I found this old (pretty old, 1946) book on Lithops called "Lithops" By Gert Cornelius Nel. I've downloaded it from and have only browsed through it quickly, but it looks amazing! It looks like a collectors' science textbook on Lithops. It has a lovely green fabric hard cover with gold printing of text and Lithops on the front cover (it's digital but you can use your imagination). It's the kind of book that you would find in an old bookstore (the kind of old bookstore that has a bell hanging above the door that rings everytime it opens, and a cat in the corner) at the back room, top shelf, and you have to wipe and blow the dust off the cover to read the title (cough, cough). But when you open it, you realise it's a book you'll cherish forever!

    The book is 178 pages long, and is filled with scientific text on the Lithops, with old b&w photos (if you're into that kinda stuff), and beautiful watercolour (in colour) drawings/paintings of Lithops and species.

    I downloaded it for free. I hope it's for free because there was no message saying otherwise, from, under "Books", at the bottom of the page. I would like to say thank you to and Rafael M., Germany for providing the link to download this book. You are very kind. I hope good things come your way. All the best!!

  9. That book sounds amazing, I'd love to look at the watercolors, particularly! I'll try to get hold of it. Thanks for the tip!