Botany, Principles and Edmund W. Sinnott

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  • Botany, Principles and Problems. by Edmund W. SinnottReview by: G. M. JamesNew Phytologist, Vol. 46, No. 2 (Dec., 1947), p. 287Published by: Wiley on behalf of the New Phytologist TrustStable URL: .Accessed: 15/06/2014 18:54

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  • Reviews 287 Botany, Principles and Problems. By EDMUND W. SINNOTT. 9 x 6 in. Pp. 726; 403 figs.

    and frontispiece. New York and London: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 4th edition. 1946. Price 22s. 6d.

    This is a delightful and stimulating book to use; the approach to and treatment of the various branches of botany are always original and full of vigour, and the science as a whole is presented as a live and growing one.

    The fourth edition is considerably larger than the third; new chapters on 'Plant distribution' and 'Botany and the future' have been added; much more stress has been laid on the economic importance of plants and their various parts; sections have been added in various chapters to include modem views and results, including cell physiology, osmotic relations and absorption of ions, the energy problem, the part played by the essential elements, vitamins and viruses. The chapters dealing with heredity and evolution and the vascular plants are extended, many more types being included in the last mentioned, and the chapter on Bryophyta has been completely rewritten by Prof. Hempstead Castle.

    Inevitably there are defects in a book which attempts to cover so much ground. To English eyes the treatment appears somewhat unbalanced with too much weight given to development, morpho- genesis, heredity, variation and evolution and too little to metabolism in general and to the ascent and loss of water and to ecology. The account of nuclear division (mitosis) ignores the work of Darlington and others in this country and in the U.S.A. but refers to spindle-fibres and formation of the cell-plate from them. The ascent of water in tall trees is dismissed in one very brief section, with only two or three sentences referring to the cohesion theory of Dixon and Joly and a passing reference to the influence of transpiration on the movement of water. The translocation of dissolved organic substances is also very inadequately discussed, though admittedly this is much more difficult to deal with from an elementary point of view. In the section on metabolism there are several misstatements, such as the sentence on pp. I89 and 2oi implying that respiration involves the breakdown of protoplasm; and that on p. 2o6 where respiration and photosynthesis are declared to be 'the precise reverse or reciprocal' of one another. The definition of oxidases on p. 205 iS also very unorthodox. Nothing is said about the role of phosphates in respiration and fermentation and more might have been said about the role of ascorbic acid and co-carboxylase (thiamin diphosphate, not thiamin, as stated on p. 2i i) in plant metabolism, especially when so much space is devoted to the relations of vitamins to plants.

    The book is freely and very well illustrated, the weakest point in this respect being the illustra- tions dealing with flowers. These are few and poor.

    On the whole, the book may be strongly recommended. It is, perhaps, not suitable as a text-book to parallel a course in this country, but certainly it should be in all botanical libraries and should be read by all students to broaden their outlook and stimulate their interest. G. M. JAMES

    A Textbook of Systematic Botany. By DEANE B. SWINGLE. 84 x 58 in. Pp. 343, Io6 text- figures, frontispiece. New York and London: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 3rd edition. 1946. Price I7s. 6d.

    Presumably there is a demand for this book since a third edition has been prepared. It has some useful features but unfortunately is marred by an uncritical outlook and by gross mistakes of fact. The title is misleading. At most it can claim to be a 'Text-book of Families of Seed-bearing Plants'.

    The main objection to the theory underlying the teaching embodied in this work is the total failure to define adequately what is meant by 'artificial' and 'natural' in plant classification. It is again and again, stated, in varied words, that classification 'must show actual phylogenetic relation- ships'. Since, however, these, with very few exceptions in the Angiospermae, are unknown and can only be assumed from indirect evidence as more or less possibly this or that it seems absurd to pretend that plant classification is, at present, founded on anything more than resemblances and differences and may therefore help in elucidating phylogeny but cannot be based on it. The greatest gap in knowledge of the flowering plants is their early history. Till relevant fossil data become available their origin, and consequently any certainty as to which are the most primitive of their families, is a matter too hypothetical to be of much use in the theory and practice of their

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    Article Contentsp. 287

    Issue Table of ContentsNew Phytologist, Vol. 46, No. 2 (Dec., 1947), pp. 185-296Front Matter [pp. ]Observations on Soil Algae. III. Species of Chlamydomonas Ehr. in Relation to Variability within the Genus [pp. 185-194]Variation in the Size and Shape of Spores, Basidia and Cystidia in Basidiomycetes [pp. 195-228]Studies in British Primulas. I. Hybridization Between Primrose and Oxlip (Primula vulgaris Huds. and P. Elatior Schreb.) [pp. 229-253]Further Experiments on Plagiotropism and Correlative Inhibition [pp. 254-257]A Test of Sachs's Theory of the Plagiotropism of Laminae [pp. 258-261]Tussock Formation in Ammophila arenaria (L.) Link. [pp. 262-268]Astomella, a New Member of the Perisporiales [pp. 269-273]A Note on the Assimilation of Carbon Dioxide by Apple Fruits After Gathering [pp. 274-275]Note on the Diurnal Fluctuations in Water Content of Floating Leaf Disks [pp. 276-278]ReviewsReview: untitled [pp. 286]Review: untitled [pp. 287]Review: untitled [pp. 287-288]Review: untitled [pp. 288-289]Review: untitled [pp. 290]Review: untitled [pp. 290]Review: untitled [pp. 290-291]Review: untitled [pp. 291-293]Review: untitled [pp. 293-294]Review: untitled [pp. 294-295]Review: untitled [pp. 295]Review: untitled [pp. 296]Review: untitled [pp. 296]

    Back Matter [pp. ]