The Genus Primula L. in India : A Taxonomic Revision by S.K. Basak, G. Maiti & P.K. Hajra

A new Primula book has been published in 2014 on the 106 species of Primula in India. I must admit, I was thrilled to find out about this new book and eagerly anticipated its arrival at my doorstep after ordering from Vedam Books. It now is available through other book sellers such as Koeltz Scientific Books. The price is over $120.00 US.

The book’s contents evolved through a PhD thesis of one of the authors, Dr. Sandip Kumar Basak, and the material is broken into chapters: introduction; historical background; materials and methods; gross morphology; pollen micro-morphology; seed morphology; systematic treatment; classification and discussion, with the bulk on the contents contained within the systematic treatment. Unfortunately there is repeated material in the introduction, historical background and discussion, and these chapters would have benefitted from better organization. Even in the chapter on gross morphology we find oddities such as farina characteristics listed under “Habitat”. Description is repeated at the Genus, Subgenus, Section and Species levels and each species description is so detailed that the sheer amount of material presented makes it difficult to deduce which characteristics are most valuable. The black and white line drawings presented for each species are exceptional. Generally, the taxonomy follows J. A. Richards. The authors present six black and white SEM images and the description of pollen for 15 species but there is no interpretation of the data. Similarly, 173 black and white SEM images of seeds are shown, and the characteristics for 59 species and subspecies are described. Near the back of the book are 95 images of nomenclatural type herbarium sheets but they are usually of small thumbnail size and almost all of such poor quality that little useful information can be discerned. Given that very high resolution herbarium scans are available freely over the web from herbariums such as Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Kew, the British Museum and Paris; it is puzzling why the authors didn’t print better quality images. It seems this rich source of information was neglected in this study.

This book is worthwhile for those who are involved in more serious study of Primula, and could be useful to those who are interested in identifying species encountered while travelling. 

Species contained in the book:
agleniana, arunachalensis, assamica, atrodentata, aureata, bella, bellidifolia, bhutanica, blandula, boothii, bracteosa, calderiana, calthifolia, capitata, caveana, chumbiensis, chungensis, clarkei, clutterbuckii, concholoba, concinna, cooperi, crispata, cunninghamii, denticulata, deuteronana, dickieana, drummondiana, duthieana, elliptica, elongata, erosa, euosma, falcifolia, filipes, firmipes, flagellaris, floribunda, gambeliana, geraniifolia, glabra, glandulifera, glomerata, gracilipes, griffithii, hazarica, heydei, hookeri, ianthina, inayatii, irregularis, jaffreyana, khasiana, kingii, klattii, listeri, macrophylla, malacoides, megalocarpa, melanodonta, minutissima, mishmiensis, mollis, morsheadiana, munroi, muscoides, nana, nanocapitata, normaniana, nutans, obliqua, obtusifolia, petiolaris, polonensis, prenantha, primulina, prolifera, pulchra, reidii, reptans, reticulata, rosea, rotundifolia, sapphirina, scapigera, schlagintweitiana, septemloba, sessilis, sherriffae, sikkimensis, silaensis, smithiana, soldanelloides, spathulifolia, stirtoniana, stuartii, tanneri, tanupoda, tenella, tenuiloba, tibetica, vaginata, walshii, waltonii, wattii, whitei.


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