Palm Trees: A Story in Photographs. David Leaser. 2005. Westwood Pacific Publishing, 12021 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 200, Los Angeles, CA 90025. 144 p., incl. index., illus., $39.95, hardcover. ISBN 1-595588-010-0.
This is a very attractive, large-format (coffee table) book filled with many excellent photographs of palm trees growing in their native surroundings and in cultivated plantings. The first text includes a brief, two-column introduction to palms followed by 20 pages of photographs of various palm trees growing in places as diverse as Hawaii and Morocco. Some of the photographs are close-ups that show morphological features such as leaf bases or spines on petioles. Other photographs show palms in native plantings or in combinations with architectural features or buildings. Some of photographs, like the two-page spread of the date palms at Versailles, are very dramatic. There are six other one- or two-page discussions scattered throughout the book, also followed by numerous photographs that relate in some way to the preceding text. These chapter-like texts briefly discuss the importance of palms, the coconut palm specifically, and then present assorted palms by geographic distribution. There is also a list of botanical gardens with palm collections, a list of resources that pertain to palms, and an index to the photographs by common name and by scientific name. The sparse text is mostly a scattering of information about specific palms and their uses. The annotations to the photographs are also quite thorough, so that no photograph is provided without substantial explanation. In fact, there is more specific information in the photograph annotations than in the brief texts. The author, a long-time member of the International Palm Society, has intended this book to be an “inspiration book” that can transport the reader to a tropical beach or a desert oasis—and it certainly succeeds in doing that. Almost anyone who is attracted to or interested in palm trees will thoroughly enjoy this book. It may also make some new converts among the casual readers who happen to thumb through the photographs when they see this handsome volume on the rack. The book is highly recommended for anybody interested in well-photographed palms.