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I'm Principal Scientist for Botany at the RHS and work on the correct naming of plants and manage the RHS Herbarium. I am part of an expedition to South Africa this January to study Kniphofia and their natural hybrids.

Field Guides of South Africa

Posted by Chris Whitehouse on 23 Jan 2012 at 10:16 AM

Do you take some "light" reading with you when you travel abroad?  I think this is one of the hardest decisions I have to make whenever I travel somewhere: which books do I want? Which ones will I actually use? Do I need to keep some weight allowance to bring some books back?  This trip to South Africa is no exception and here is a selection of the books I will be taking:

Although my aim is to hunt down Kniphofia, and hence I have the latest and most comprehensive guides to the genus in my travel bag, I am sure there will be many other plants that will grab my interest along the way.  The trouble is that the flora of South Africa has over 22,000 species and many of those species are very local as well.  This means that no one book can cover in detail all the plants one is likely to see, especially if you are travelling over such vast distances as I will be covering in the next three weeks.  Even with all these field guides, there will be many plants that I see that are not even mentioned but having these guides available will at least help me out with the more eye-catching or distinctive species.

Suffice to say, these books already take up around half my weight allowance.  I will have to leave behind the books dedicated to single genera and the guides to butterflies or snakes. Let's hope that I don't find too many other interesting ones to bring back.


Botany said:

This page is to act as a summary of my expedition to find Kniphofia , red hot pokers, with links through

on 24 Feb 2012 at 03:29 PM