The genus Eryngium is the largest one in the Apiaceae family
with c. 220 species, and its last revision was published just a
century ago by H. Wolff for the Engler’s Pflanzenreich. As quoted by
the author (p. 9) several thorough floristic treatments became
available since then, and a need for a new monograph evolved, which
resulted – after 12 years – in a first volume dealing with the main
morphological data and their cladistic interpretation. Here 61
Eurasian and North- African species are recognized, sharing out among
the Eryngium, Ilicifolia and Semiaquatica subgenera.
As expected in Apiaceae, this work is especially detailed about the
petal and fruit morphology (p. 39, 44-51), phytochemistry (p. 51-55)
and caryology (p. 56-67), which provide the most significant data for
the phylogenetic analysis. However many other relevant characters are
described (basal and involucral leaves, stomata and inflorescences),
some remain illknown (collenchyma, stylopodium, pollen or seedlings),
but are briefly discussed. All the paragraphs refer to a rather
exhaustive literature so that the state of knowledge can be
appreciated at once.
A cladistic analysis of morphological characters is nicely developed
(p. 79-88), with lightened cladograms. The identification keys
(p. 91-98) are very carefully written, moreover including the
description of the new subgenus Ilicifolia.
The systematic treatment covers 349 pages and is much remarkable by
its accuracy and richness. Especially all references are given for
illustrations and all studied specimens (from 27 herbaria) are
extensively cited. The author did not merely tackle nomenclatural,
morphological and geographical aspects only, but yielded numerous
additional data about pollination and dispersal biology, chromosome
counts, phytochemistry and ethnobotany. A large space is devoted to
ecological features, with a peculiar stress on phytosociological data,
a very innovative approach in a monographic study.
The rare hybrids are described (p. 441-446) and their discussion is a
good demonstration of generated technical problems when the parent
species are not easily recognizable and their caryology not fully - or
not at all - known, in a complex collecting history, often resulting
in a weak availability of type specimens.
References are numerous, but perhaps Mouterde (1970) should be added
here, as many specimens cited for Lebanon and Syria were gathered by
him. Indexes (taxonomic and thematic) are nice to use.
The iconographical care is noticeable all along the book, with finely
selected plates from the literature, properly modified (especially
scales are added) and completed by additional plates skilfully drawn
by A. Gauss, L. Klingenberg and M. Schmid. Colour pictures (46 figs
in 12 plates) are bound in a final section and yield a good sight of
the habit of many species in the field.
This wonderful and inspired work will be highly useful to a wide range
of readers from the Apiaceae specialist to the field ecologist. He
provides moreover a beautiful model for monographers and is a reliable
source for students by suggesting right tracks for any further
research in Eryngium. The editorial work is wholly successful and the
second volume planned about American and Australian species is
ADANSONIA, sér 3 - 2013 - 35(1)