Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Great Read: Doreen Court's "Succulent Flora of Southern Africa", (3rd Edition)

Doreen Court's latest edition of her weighty tome on the succulents of Southern Africa is quite amazing. Published in 2010, it's very up-to-date with the newest taxonomic changes and species listings for hundreds of succulents, including the entire bunch from Mesembryanthemaceae (say it 10 times fast).

Doreen Court sounds like an amazing person. She was born in the Little Karoo, and now lives in the Western Cape. A Fellow of the Linnean Society, Court's knowledge of these plants seems quite inexhaustable! And her enthusiasm for the subject seems quite unquenchable.

The photography is excellent; there are hundreds of dramatic closeups in full color. Most of the plants are shown in situ, which makes it particularly interesting for gardeners who usually see these plants only in collections (in my case, that means in small ceramic pots). It's available on Amazon now for around $30(US) in a beautiful hardcover edition. I've also seen a few copies on the 'bay and with online booksellers.

The only difficult aspect of the book is that the written entries on each plant are not next to the photographs. In other words, there's a large text section followed by pages of photographs, so you have to flip the pages back and forth as you read. Picture, text, picture, text. Once I got used to doing that, it was pretty easy to use. All in all, it's a very necessary, and enjoyable book for people who grow and collect succulents, and particularly, mesembs.


  1. This book looks great. I don't grow these plants but am thinking that it would be fun. Do you recommend a book that deals specifically with the culture of lithops?

  2. There isn't much out there, truth be told. If you can find a copy of Steve Hammer's "Lithops: Treasures of the Veld", it's a terrific book. His Little Sphaeroid Press is working on a new series about mesembs; they print as they find money! Another one that's been useful for me is "Mesembs of the World" by Smith et al, and then there is Fred Dortort's "Timber Press Guide to Succulent Plants" that's loaded with info. Court's book is more about the natural history and botany, not a lot about cultivation.