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Recommended Reading - Plants


Most recommended books are still in print. A small number are out of print although they can still be purchased online. Check online using title and authors. Try your local bookshop!



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Australian Rainforest Fruit
A Field Guide
Wendy and Bill Cooper
This beautifully illustrated field guide covers 504 of the most common fruiting plants found in Australia's eastern rainforests, as well as a few species that are rare in the wild but generally well-known. These spectacular plants can be seen from Cape York to Victoria, with some species also found in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and overseas.

Rainforest fruits are often beautifully coloured, and in this guide the species are arranged by colour of ripe fruit, then by size and form. Five broad categories – pink to purple, blue to black, yellow and orange to red, green to brown, and white – allow people with even limited botanical knowledge to identify rainforest fruits.


Each species description is accompanied by a leaf drawing, a distribution map, and diagnostic characters to help the reader distinguish similar species.

Australian Rainforest Fruits includes stunning artwork by Australia’s leading natural history artist, William T Cooper.


It will be sought not just by bushwalkers and natural history enthusiasts, but also by those who admire botanical art at its best. (Source: Publisher)

Plants of Tropical North Queensland
John Beasley

This notebook-sized (A5) book of 192 pages is an interesting and quirky little publication covering 485 plants, mostly native, likely to be noticed in its area of coverage. This is centred on Cairns, but extends to include Cooktown and Ingham and their hinterland areas like Chillagoe.
Plants, each given a number, are arranged in groups like trees, vines and so on within habitats.

These are mangroves, shore and swamp, coastal open forest, rainforest, inland open forest and
stream margins. There is also an introductory section on harmful plants and closing sections onweeds and on ornamental shrubs and trees (exotics and natives from outside the area).

The plants each have a unique numeric identifier, and many are listed under the multiple keys,based on things like colours of all major plant parts, leaf sizes and shapes and textures andarrangement, and stem and bark features. Photos are smallish but almost always clear. Height, leaflength, flower size, flowering period, fruiting time and fruit size are given for each plant.  (Review Kerry Rathie Society for Growing Native Plants Qld Branch)

101 Plants of the
Wet Tropics
A Field Guide
Martin Cohen and Julia Cooper
This useful guide features a selection of plants that you are most likely to observe during your visit and includes several iconic species of the Wet Tropics.

Perfect to slip into your pocket on one of themany spectacular walks in the region or use while driving around.

Source: Publisher


Fruits of Australia's Tropical Rainforest

Wendy & Bill Cooper


This definitive work, 17 years in the making, covers the fruiting plants of Australia's tropical rainforest in Queensland extending from Rockhampton on the Tropic of Capricorn through to the Torres Strait. It identifies and describes 2,436 species of which 1,236 are illustrated in vibrant colour.


Each species (except for a few which are leafless) is accompanied by a line illustration of its leaf as an aid to identification. It is a testimony to Wendy and Bill Coopers' passion for the Australian rainforest that has resulted in this fine book, bestowing the reader with art of unparalleled beauty alongside meticulous scientific research and expertise.


The book has been divided into two sections, Gymnosperms (non flowering plants) and Angiosperms (flowering plants). For easy referencing, these sections have been laid out in alphabetical order of family, genera and species. This method of presentation is ideal for botanists or general readers who are interested in the fruiting plants of Australian tropical rainforests. There are keys to the families, genera and species and the meaning of every botanical name is explained.


Their dedicated work will have a tremendous impact on the future of environmental sustainability as we gain knowledge of the fragile ecological balance within our rainforests and ways to maintain them for future generations to enjoy and appreciate. Looking through this magnificent volume, one cannot help but be impressed by the academic and scientific importance of the text in combination with such a dazzling collection of paintings. It is indeed a book of art as well as a book of science. (Source: Publisher)

Plants of Cape York


The Compact Guide

John Beasley


Plants of Cape York meets a long-felt need for a conveniently sized 'backpack' guide to the plants of the Cape. Here 600 plants are described with colour illustrations, plant details and interesting information relating to each plant. Plants are grouped by vegetation zones, and a simple key assists identification.


The guide has been designed to appeal to visitors and local residents without specific botanical knowledge, while providing sufficient information to be of use to professional botanists. The plants selected are those likely to attract attention, with an emphasis on trees, shrubs, vines, mangroves and orchids. Most are native species but some weeds are included.


Common names in use in the area are used throughout, with scientific names also listed, and both a common and scientific name index provided, with a brief indication of the family for each species. The book is issued in a heavy duty plastic sleeve and is designed to be carried in a backpack or vehicle.

(Source: Publisher)


.The purpose of the Wet Tropics Vegetation Mapping is to produce a series of vegetation maps and associated information and knowledge which describes the vegetation communities of the Wet Tropics Bioregion in a readily accessible and user-friendly format.


The mapping is a valuable resource tool for informing conservation planning and research, policy development and decision-making at regional, local and individual property levels.

The Wet Tropics vegetation mapping comprises a series of fifty-five 1:50,000 maps and recognises 250 distinct vegetation communities in the Wet Tropics Bioregion based on their structural and floristic chararacters.

The Authority has designed a logical, hierarchical framework and map key which groups the 250 vegetation types into ecological communities and identifies relationships among them. 

Source: Web Site

Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants Edition 6


BPM Hyland, T Whiffin, FA Zich


This is a FREE online tropical rainforest plant key.

Includes 2553 species in 175 families, and has attempted to include all flowering plant species present in rainforest of northern Australia in the following life forms: trees, shrubs, vines, forbs, grasses and sedges, epiphytes, palms and pandans.


Each of the species described in the information system has the voucher evidence of dried, pressed, mounted specimens and preserved, bottled, wet specimens, held in the Australian Tropical Herbarium, James Cook University, Cairns.


For each species, the information system includes more than just the identification key’s comprehensive plant characteristics. In addition, it includes fact sheets providing comprehensive descriptions of: current names and synonyms, common names, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits, seedlings, known distributions in the Wet Tropics, Australia-wide and globally, ecology, wood characteristics of selected tree species, life forms and, a total of, more than 11,000 paintings, illustrations and photographs.

(Source: Publisher)

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