Plant Propagation Concepts and Laboratory Exercises, 2nd Edition. Caula A. Beyl and Robert N. Trigiano, eds. 2015. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida. 498 p. $199.95. Spiral bound. ISBN-13: 978-1-4665-0387-8
Plant Propagation is often one of the most popular courses offerings in many horticulture programs. Students like the “hands-on” nature of the course, and they are intrigued by the often unusual and surprising propagation methods and appreciate the practical application of horticultural science to propagation. Plant Propagation Concepts and Laboratory Exercises is an excellent alternative among the rather limited choices of plant propagation textbooks for undergraduates and is useful to anyone interested in an in-depth understanding of asexual and sexual propagation of plants.
The book is organized into 13 parts consisting of 40 chapters written by 47 contributing authors. Considering the number of contributors, I was surprised by how concise and consistent in writing and organization the chapters are with little or no repetition between chapters. I liked this arrangement, and so will students using the book. The editors and authors should be commended for their discipline. Most of the chapters are well-illustrated with color pictures, line drawings, tables, or graphs. Accompanying the book is a DVD containing the illustrations in PowerPoint format. Chapters begin with a “concept box” and include, where appropriate, detailed procedures for experiments supporting the concepts. Also, for each experiment are “Anticipated Results”, review questions, and literature cited.
Beyond the expected chapters on propagation methods, there are seven chapters for “Botanical Basics”, five for “Plant Propagation and the Importance of Sanitation”, one called “Intellectual Property Protection for Plants”, and one called “Molecular Biology and the Future of Plant Propagation”. These chapters are very important and will help students increase their understanding of the role of science in propagation, the importance of integrated management of diseases and insects to the success of plant propagation, and current and future issues in plant propagation.
I have taught undergraduate Plant Propagation for 10 years, but I still learned some new things from the book to apply in my course. Depending on local conditions, especially time and space, some of the experiments maybe a little ambitious for a large enrollment or a semester-length course. For example, in my experience, propagating “ZZ” plant leaflets and chimeral peperomia leaves take significantly more time than a semester for visible shoots to appear. I was pleased with the chapter on vegetable grafting because it is a practical, sustainable method of disease control and yield enhancement used locally, so the students can relate to it easily. The method is somewhat challenging, but results occur quickly and well within a semester.
Overall I am pleased to recommend this book for undergraduate instruction in plant propagation. It could easily serve as a textbook and as a laboratory manual for such a course. Since, like most college textbooks, the book is not inexpensive, and I would hope that the book would be used routinely as an integral part of teaching of plant propagation so that students get the greatest benefit out of their investment.