Book Review: Wild flowers of the Maltese Islands

Book Review: Wild flowers of the Maltese Islands
Nature Guide Series – Wild Flowers of the Maltese Islands by Edwin Lanfranco (Author) and Guido Bonett (Photographer)
2015, Book Distributors Limited, Malta

The early rains this year have started to paint the landscape with a dash of vivid green in contrast to the dried-out soils of the past months. The first autumn flowers have sprouted hastily after the long wait and so starts another floral season which yields so many diverse botanical gems despite the small size of our islands. Testament to this is the beautiful diversity presented on each page of this colourful floral field guide by Lanfranco and Bonett – a book which no nature lover should go without. Both names are synonymous with the field of local nature observation and conservation and in this book the in-depth extensive knowledge and passion of Malta’s foremost botanist Edwin Lanfranco is complemented by Guido Bonett’s sensitive nature photography and eye for detail.

With this practical and easy to carry field guide you do not need to be a botanist to identify some of the more common as well as some of the rarer flora: almost 300 species are illustrated and divided into 5 colour-coded sections for easier reference. mostly according to the main colour of the petals. Many other similar or related species are described in the main entries in such a way that the handy size of the book does not compromise on content. Each plant entry gives details on scientific nomenclature and classification for those who are more botanically inclined as well as information on its distribution, common names, flowering period, habitat (13 different habitats are outlined in the introductory  section), status and frequency. Each plant is also described as a whole – its size and the way it grows – in addition to a mention of plants which are edible or poisonous. A glossary of useful terms is included at the end of the book.

From the tiniest inconspicuous flowers of the cute Pygmy Cudweed to the grand beauty of the rare Sicilian Iris, this field guide is not only a pleasure to behold but is also a tribute to our natural heritage – may it serve as a tool of learning and instilling curiosity as well as awareness on all that can be lost to environmental degradation if we do not protect biodiversity and ecosystems without further delay.

As the outdoor walking season soon gets underway this field guide is the perfect companion on nature walks and can be used by children and adults alike – why not challenge yourselves to undertake a botanical treasure hunt and see how many species you get to know in the coming months?

By Annalise Falzon

This book is available at the FoEM Green lending Library which was funded with the financial support of Aġenzija Żgħażagħ through the Be Active Initiative.