QBARS - v5n2 Book Review: The Rhododendron Leaf

Book Review
by Rudolph Henny

The Rhododendron Leaf , by J. M. Cowan, 3 full page color plates, 15 full pages black and white line drawings, 8 text figures, 120 pages, Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh: Tweeddale Court, London, 98 Great Russell Street, W.C. 21

The author Dr. Cowan, Assistant Keeper, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, and leading authority on Rhododendrons has in this edition presented the results of an immense amount of research and study. The volume, dedicated entirely to the minute structure of rhododendron leaf covering, e.g. Trichome, covers even the finest detail of the subject, though the author admits readily that many questions regarding this little known subject are still unanswered.  Though no more technical than absolutely necessary, the reader will find that the volume contains a minimum of technical terms. The nature of the subject precludes the type of light reading that is usually found in garden magazines.

The heading of the nine chapters that make up the book are as follows:

  1. General Features of the Indumentum.
  2. Purpose of the Survey and Methods of Investigation.
  3. Earlier Work on Rhododendron Trichomes.
  4. Classification of the Trichome.
  5. Detailed Descriptions of Trichome types.
  6. Rhododendron Series and their Associated Trichome.
  7. Trichomes in Relation to Problems of Taxonomy.
  8. The Development of the Trichome.
  9. The Trichome in the Economy of the Living Plant.

Chapter nine, under the heading of The Economy of the Living Plant relates the necessity of both scales and indumentum in the physical structure of the plant.

The edition is a welcome addition to the library of the really interested rhododendron fancier, and it will be referred to many times for much of the information regarding the Trichome of separate series of rhododendron has never been published before.