Common Fossil Plants of Western North America

by William D. Tidwell
Washington, DC: Smithsonian Books, 1998. 302 pages.

First published in 1975, the revised second edition of Common Fossil Plants of Western North America added 79 new genera and over 350 illustrations (bringing the total to over 800). For anyone interested in hunting and identifying fossil plants, especially west of the Mississippi, Tidwell's reference is simply a necessity. The reviewer for Plant Science Bulletin describes it as "an absolute must for all paleobotanists and botanical libraries (even if you already have the first edition), for all amateur collectors of fossil plants, as well as for any botanists with a fancy for ancient plants." The author is Professor of Botany at Brigham Young University.

Flowering Earth

by Donald Culross Peattie
Bloomington: Indiana University Press

Originally published in 1939 and still in print, Flowering Earth traces the evolution of plant life from the appearance of the earliest microorganisms to the rise of the modern floras, adroitly interweaving natural history, biography, and philosophical reflection en route. Mark Van Doren placed Donald Culross Peattie (1898–1964) as a nature writer in the ranks of Gilbert White, Henry David Thoreau, John Burroughs, W. H. Hudson, Richard Jeffries, and John Muir. The Indiana University Press edition features a new foreword by Charles B. Heiser and a new afterword by Noel Peattie, as well as wood engravings by Paul Landacre.

Paleobotany and the Evolution of Plants

by Wilson N. Stewart and Gar W. Rothwell
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993. 535 pages.

Stewart and Rothwell's popular paleobotany textbook, now in its second edition, describes and explains the origin and evolution of plants as revealed by the fossil record and reviews the paleobotanical data that informs our present understanding of the relationships between the major plant groups. Supplemented with line illustrations, half-tones, and summary charts. The reviewer for American Scientist writes, "I recommend it as an excellent text and as a valuable reference work for those in related fields," and the reviewer for The Scientist concurs: "I have seldom read a textbook with such enthusiasm and I shall recommend it to students and staff alike."

Petrified Wood

by Frank J. Daniels
Grand Junction, CO: Western Colorado Pub. Co., 1998. 170 pages.

A lavishly illustrated guide to petrified wood, suitable both for the collector's reference shelf and for the coffee table. The author writes, "While a beautiful, well-silicified, gem quality, colorful branch of petrified wood is now a rock, it once was part of a tree — a tree that may have been growing in a distant forest over 200 million years ago. Some of these trees grew when the continents of the earth were joined into one. It is difficult to imagine the events that allowed these petrifications to occur and the forces that later allowed them to be unearthed. Each specimen has a story of its own."

Plant Life

by Roland Ennos and Elizabeth Sheffield
Oxford: Blackwell Science, 2001. 217 pages.

From the publisher: "There are almost one third of a million species of plants, which range in form from unicellular algae a few microns in diameter to gigantic trees that can grow to a height of 100 meters. Plant Life makes sense of the bewildering diversity of plants by treating them not just as photosynthetic factories, but as living organisms that are the survivors of millions of years of evolutionary struggle. The book examines plants from an evolutionary perspective to show how such a wide range of life forms has evolved and continues to thrive." Lavishly illustrated with color plates, electron micrographs, and line drawings.

Plant Variation and Evolution

by David Briggs and Stuart Max Walters
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. 534 pages.

First published in 1969 and now in its third edition, Briggs and Walters's classic text is fully up-to-date with coverage of the implications of molecular biology for plant variation and evolution. The reviewer for the Journal of Plant Physiology describes Plant Variation and Evolution as "suitable for university students in Environmental Sciences, Agricultural Sciences, Botany and Plant Biology. It is particularly a useful book for updates. The book is highly recommended for the professional practitioner in the field as a background, for plant physiologists and people in related fields it provides a thorough review of the field as it now stands."

Plants Invade the Land

edited by Patricia G. Gensel and Dianne Edwards
New York: Columbia University Press, 2001. 512 pages.

Gensel and Edwards's anthology collects 13 papers originally presented at the Fifth International Organization of Paleobotany Conference in 1996, dealing with the invasion of the land by plant life. "The essays in this collection," writes the publisher, "present a synthesis of our present state of knowledge, integrating current information in paleobotany with physical, chemical, and geological data." According to the reviewer for Choice, "[Gensel and Edwards have] accomplished what often eludes editors ... they have developed a cohesive, comprehensive, and scientifically satisfying story. ... Appropriate for the serious student ... and a valuable resource and think-piece for instructors and researchers in the field."

The Evolution of Plants

by K. J. Willis and J. C. McElwain
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. 378 pages.

The reviewer for Current Books on Gardening & Botany describes The Evolution of Plants as "a magnificent review of recent research in paleobotany, paleogeography, paleoecology and paleoclimatology — all focused on plants. It is an exciting synthesis, with plenty of illustrations, of the history of plants on Earth for the past 430 or so million years." Topics include the evolutionary record and methods of reconstruction, earliest forms of plant life, the colonization of land, the first forests, major emergence of the seed plants, flowering plant origins, the past 65 million years, mass extinctions and persistent populations, ancient DNA and the biomolecular record, and evolutionary theories and the plant fossil record.

The Evolutionary Biology of Plants

by Karl J. Niklas
Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 1997. 470 pages.

The reviewer for American Scientist describes The Evolutionary Biology of Plants as "a well-thought-out and elegantly written guide to the origins and causes of diversity among plant groups [that] allows us to grapple with the logic behind evolutionary change. Niklas weaves a discourse on evolutionary principles, illustrated with liberal examples from the plant kingdom of how evolutionary forces shape the structural innovations that characterize these organisms." Topics include adaptive evolution, species and speciation, origins and early events, the invasion of land and air, the aquatic landscape, the terrestrial landscape, divergence and convergence, and tempos and patterns. Niklas is the Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor of Plant Biology at Cornell University.

The Life of Plants

by E. J. H. Corner
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002. 376 pages.

From the publisher: "EJH Corner's perennial favorite The Life of Plants, copiously stocked with now-classic botanical illustrations, is one of the most fascinating and original introductions to the world of plants ever produced — from the botanist to the amateur, no reader will finish this book without gaining a much richer understanding of plants, their history, and their relationship with the environments around them." Originally published in 1964, the new edition of The Life of Plants from the University of Chicago Press features a new foreword by Karl J. Niklas, author of The Evolutionary Biology of Plants.

The Origin and Early Diversification of Early Land Plants

by Paul Kenrick and Peter R. Crane
Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997. 592 pages.

From the publisher, Smithsonian Institution Press: "Illustrated with line drawings and complete with appendices detailing the morphology of early fossil plants and their living relatives, The Origin and Early Diversification of Land Plants discusses the implications of its phylogenetic conclusions for understanding the evolution of land plant structure, life cycles, the appearance of groups in the fossil record, biogeographic patterns, and related geological events." Kenrick and Crane won the Henry Allan Gleason Award, conferred annually by the New York Botanical Garden for a recent outstanding publication in plant taxonomy, plant ecology, or plant geography, in 1997.

The Various Contrivances by Which Orchids are Fertilized by Insects

by Charles Darwin
New York: New York University Press, 1989. 240 pages.

In The Various Contrivances (1862), Darwin provided specific reasons for his belief "that it is apparently a universal law of nature that organic beings require an occasional cross with another individual; or, which is almost the same thing, that no hermaphrodite fertilises itself for a perpetuity of generations. ... This treatise affords me also an opportunity of attempting to show that the study of organic beings may be as interesting to an observer who is fully convinced that the structure of each is due to secondary laws, as to one who views every trifling detail of structure as the result of the direct interposition of the Creator."