Chayamarit, K. and Puff, C. 2007. Plants of Doi Inthanon National Park. National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, Bangkok.
Chayamarit, K. and Puff, C. 2007. Plants of Kaeng Krachen National Park. National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, Bangkok.
These books are a useful introduction to the plant life of two rich and interesting National Parks of Thailand – Doi Inthanon and Kaeng Krachan. Both books, which are in Thai and English throughout, have short introductions to each area followed by a botanical part with the plant descriptions and plates; 140 plant species are depicted from Doi Inthanon, and 120 from Kaeng Krachen. (It is unclear, however, which of the two authors has written the text because both authors are acknowledged to have written that in their own languages yet, as both the Thai and English are identical, has the Thai been translated into English or vice versa? A Thai colleague assumed the Thai had been translated into English, whereas I though it was the other way round!).
The introduction in both books gives a brief background to the history and locality
including maps - of the National Parks, park highlights that a visitor can find there and a
short section on climate and geology. Each book introduces the different vegetation types to be found in the Parks with photographs illustrating the different types of vegetation; these photographs are very good and provide a very useful visualisation of the vegetation, especially for first time visitors to the Parks, or armchair readers.
The botanical part of both books shows a selection of species of “common as well as rare plants” to be found in each Park and so gives the reader some idea as to the diversity and variety of plants in both areas. Each plant species has a short description, followed by a some brief notes on distinct characters and habitat preferences, and is accompanied by several high-quality colour photographs, which have been carefully produced. The descriptions are similar to those in a Flora, thus are quite technical and do not give some basic information which would have been useful to the lay-person such as the height and size of trees. The notes after each description are basic and perhaps some of the description could have been shortened to provide more information about each species; non-botanical users from Thailand who I showed the book to wanted to know if it was endemic to Thailand and where else it was found, how common or rare it is, does it need preserving, does it have uses etc. Admittedly this is a difficult balancing act to make, but as the books are not supposed to be floristic or checklist-based and are supposed to give a flavour of the flora, then the technical descriptions could have been shortened to allow for more discussion and notes.
The photographs are the real highlight of both books with many beautiful pictures of interesting and colourful species. The photographs are of very high quality with excellent images of habit shots of the larger species down to crisp macro photographs of small flowers; colour reproduction is excellent and the images often leap from the page. The photographs are primarily of leaf characters, flowers and fruits and some photographs of bark/trunk characters may have been useful for the larger trees. The layout is usually excellent, though there are some pages where images seem to be duplicated, either being the same image cropped slightly differently, or the same flower or inflorescence being photographed from a different angle. What is sometimes disconcerting and confusing is