Book Review

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Douglas A. Cox Plant, Soil, and Insect Sciences University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Diseases of Herbaceous Perennials. Mark L. Gleason, Margery L. Daughtrey, Ann R. Chase, Gary W. Moorman, and Daren S. Mueller. 2009. APS Press, St. Paul, Minnesota. 281 p. Over 700 color images. Hardcover, $89.00. ISBN: 978-0-89054-374-0.

In recent years, the number of herbaceous perennials available for professional landscaping and home gardening has increased greatly. This increase has been fueled by the introduction of new genera, species, interspecific hybrids, and cultivars and by the growing global nature of the ornamental horticulture industry. New plants create the potential for new problems including diseases. The authors have provided an excellent and very current reference on diseases affecting herbaceous perennials in the landscape and garden. Following a brief chapter entitled “Diagnosing and Managing Diseases of Herbaceous Perennials,” 12 general types of diseases are described in a concise but detailed manner. Included are the expected diseases like fungal leaf spots, bacterial diseases, mildew diseases, vascular wilts, and others less well recognized and caused by rusts and smuts, phytoplasmas, viruses, and nematodes. This section is well illustrated by many high-quality color pictures of the classic symptoms and brief text describing the symptoms. However, the real strengths here lie in the discussions of disease ecology and management. The emphasis is on understanding of disease ecology and using this knowledge to manage diseases effectively by cultural means rather than using chemicals first.

The main portion of the book (220 pages) is devoted to diseases listed alphabetically by host plant genus. Most of the plants covered are the classic showy herbaceous perennials one might expect, but some herbs, ornamental grasses, spring and summer flowering bulbs and corms, and a few “wild flowers” like Trillium also can be found here. Most, but not all, entries are accompanied by illustrations of the major diseases affecting the plant. The illustrations of diseases affecting bulb and corm species are especially good. A reader expecting a large photo compendium of all possible disease problems from every angle might be disappointed. However, this problem is more than offset by the concise and well-written text on disease occurrence for each plant. A minor point – a few of the plant names are out-of-date; for example, Aster is now Symphyotrichum.

This book would be quite useful to extension personnel, plant pathologists, and others involved in plant-problem diagnosis, advanced landscapers, and avid gardeners. It would be of value to commercial perennial plant growers who grow in the field and those who provide advice to their wholesale and retail customers. Anyone can learn something from this book. As both a professional horticulturist and a home gardener, the reviewer discovered several heretofore unrecognized diseases on his own plants including fungal leaf blight of miscanthus, the cause of the curious foliar streaks and discoloration on the leaves of his grass.

Douglas A. CoxPlant, Soil, and Insect Sciences University of Massachusetts Amherst

Douglas A. Cox Plant, Soil, and Insect Sciences University of Massachusetts Amherst

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