Malesia is the botanical region comprising Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, and Timor Leste. The seed plants of this biologically super-rich region probably include over 41,000 species, which botanical work seeks to discover and document. The process of getting to understand plant life and planning appropriate strategies for both utilisation and conservation depends in a very fundamental way on first knowing its components, and being able to identify plant families, genera and species.
While the technical expertise for plant taxonomy may be highly specialised, the use of spot-characters — features of the plants that may be characteristic for a species, alliance or group, and which may be constant enough to rely on for identification — can often help. Here the authors have compiled lists of seed plants for as many as 119 spot-characters that they have found useful in their work on identification, as an additional tool in our arsenal for tracking down the identities of Malesian seed plants. The characters range from growth form and vegetative characters such as stem and branch characteristics and leaf arrangement, as well as a range of features of inflorescences, flowers, fruits and seeds.
This book should be useful for students, foresters, botanists and anyone who seeks to identify and know the seed plants of Malesia. It emphasises characters that are found on herbarium specimens (dried plant material routinely preserved to form the herbarium’s scientific archive), many of which are also easily observable in fresh material, but includes a number of commonly noted ʻfield charactersʼ (found only in the living plant but which collectors commonly mention in their collecting labels) as well. Most of the characters are illustrated by photographs.