Book Reviews & Comments
Our flagship book titled, 'Australian Succulent Plants' is now SOLD OUT. It has been a remarkable journey and 2000 books have been printed and sold. The final copy was donated and auctioned in the USA on June 19th at a large cactus and succulent conference.
It can now be heralded as a great success! No plans to reprint but instead we have smaller booklets underway which can fundamentally replace much of the content of our flagship book. Each of these booklets covers a chapter, section or genus mostly from this book, each with greatly expanded and updated information and pictures. For more on these booklets, see side menu 'australian Native Plant Series' or enquire.
In late 2014 we have plans for a possible smaller field guide. Watch this space and/or let us know what you think.
Book reviews ~
All the reviews and extracts below are for the 'Australian Succulent Plants' book and and the originals can be viewed on request.
If you too, find this book worthwhile, as those below do, please don't hesitate to let us know, and more importantly recommend it to other people who might enjoy the book.
9th February 2009
I have received your book. At a first glance it appeared to be excellent, at a closer perusal it persuaded me that it is superb! You introduce the reader to a magnificent and surprising new world of succulence. The photographs are close to perfection and the book structure veery effective and exhaustive.My review (short version) will appear in the website first and later in the journal (long version). Congratulations. Such books are produced very seldom and I am quite sure that you book will become a classic.
'Prickle Patch' - News Letter of the Hawke’s Bay Branch C.S.S.N.Z, No. 60 July 2008 (extract)
..Even those not into succulents will find this a very interesting and
Horticultural Media Association HMA News, Spring 2007 No. 43 p. 18
(Quarterly colour media magazine)
‘Attila Kapitany is no ordinary collector of rare plants, mainly cacti and succulents - he is the most passionate I have ever met. They have dominated his professional and personal life for more than 30 years. The co-author (with Rudolf Schulz) of seven other books on succulents, Attila has this time gone it alone to write, photograph and self-publish this latest work covering his favourite group of plants. The unusual thing about this book is that they are all Australian in origin, and that’s something very few of us would be aware of.
As he says in the cover notes: “This book presents a fresh approach to conventional attitudes and ideas about the diversity and beauty of Australian flora. With Australia’s natural flora of well over 20,000 species, at least 400 are considered to have a notable degree of succulence.”
Some 100 species from 40 genera are included in this volume, which has taken over five years from initial planning to publication. With assistance from many notable botanists and Australian herbaria as well as extensive travel to some of the remotest parts of our vast continent, Attila has compiled a unique and fascinating insight of the diversity of our flora.
This book comes at a time when we are all seeking to become more water-efficient in our gardens. While it is obvious to utilise more cacti and succulents in our landscapes, few would have considered looking to our native flora for examples of drought-tolerance.
While external funding for the project was not forthcoming, Attila has since received some assistance in kind, but without his own persistence and the support of his wife Michele, the book probably would not have eventuated.
The photographic and factual detail is exemplary, as are the additional information pages at the end of the book. As a botanical reference, it covers all the necessary information about each species, including habitat and distribution. In all it contains some 728 colour plates.
The book’s stated aim is to inspire the reader to learn, discover and explore more about the flora of Australia. I certainly think that Attila has achieved that!'
Noelle Weatherley (Horticultural Media Association committee - Australia)
.....Let me congratulate you for this book! It is a splendid and well-done representation of the Australian succulents, and is a hard-to-surpass model for succulent floras from other regions. Your photography is just superb!
Kind regards, and best wishes
Dr. Urs Eggli
Botanic Gardens with one of the world’s largest & most important scientific botanical collections of succulent plants (approximately 9000 species). The collection is the seat of the IOS.
Cactusworld, journal of the British Cactus & Succulent Society Vol. 25 No. 4 December 2007 p. 242
.......”Land without succulents’ has been a joky reference to Australia for many years. Is it now time recant? It would be hard to imagine a finer rebuttal than this book, lavishly illustrated in colour and produced to the highest contemporary standards. Attila Kapitany has already written or co-authored eight books on succulents including one of Echeveria, and writes with clarity and infectious enthusiasm carrying the ring of authority. Here he covers 89 species out of an estimate of “at least 400” native to australia, giving distribution maps and ample details plus extra chapters on naturalised species, animal associates, edible succulents, cultivation, conservation, current research and source of plants and seeds, ending with a good bibliography and index. Even if you never plan to visit australia, or struggle to grow a Zygophyllum, this is eminently browsable.
Defining a succulent has never been easy. There are a few genera here familiar to North Temperate collections: Adansonia, Bulbine, Carpobrotus, Disphyma, Hoya, Myrmecodia, Sarcostemma, plus halophytes, annuals, orchids and trees, artificially catalogued under four headings: ground plants, rock and tree dwellers, shrubs and trees. Overall a distinction emerges between what the botanist recognises as succulence: water storage cells, xeromorphic features and CAM, and what the horticulturalist favours, based on aesthetic appeal and adaptability to pot culture away from the habitat. Few addicts bother with annuals, halophytes or rank growers.
Finally, a few statistics. South Africa, home of so many non-cactaceous succulents, is credited by Smith and colleagues in List of Southern African Succulent Plants, 1997, with 4,674 species on an area basis this works out at one species per 100.9 square miles. Taking Kapitany’s estimate of 400 species for Australia, the ratio is one per 7,415 square miles. By the same token Great Britain, with some 15 species of indigenous Crassulaceae and 38 species of Chenopodiaceae boasts one species per 1,597 square miles: a nice challenge for someone to write a companion book on the succulents of the United Kingdom (Ray Stephenson, are you listening?).
Kapitany’s book is a first and I hope it will not be the last as the remarkable flora of Australia becomes explored further. He is to be thanked for a pioneer venture so persuasively presented.
Gordon Rowley 3.9.07
Internationally renowned botanical authority & author
Oh My Goodness…..if this book is the ‘introduction’ stand back for the sequel! This book is mammoth in scope and content!
To begin I must state my conflict of interest here. My passion for succulents has been on the wane, at the thought of Australia evolving into desertification and becoming a land of
sweeping succulents….with no flooding rains… Little did I understand that Australia is already a land of sweeping succulents, as Attila is happy to enlighten, through the pages of his extraordinary book. Succulent or Succulence refers to a plants water storing ability. The succulent plant has leaves, stems, trunks or roots containing water storing tissue.
Consider Hoyas, Dendrobiums and Plectranthus as succulents, this was not in my conciousness…until now. Australian Succulent Plants opens opportunity for gardeners in search of the dry tolerant but moving forward from Aeonium ‘Schwarzkopf’ and Agave attenuata. Beautiful imagery of plant species in natural habitat is inspiring and for every designer who seeks the essence, of the true beauty of the ‘Australian native garden’, this book surely, is a requirement for the book shelf. A book that is as succulent as the plants it introduces. Delve in and out of this passionate tome, journey with Attilia through our wonderful continent, delight in his knowledge and be sincerely impressed with his adoration of anything succulent.
I truly love the recipe section: Cooking with succulents. Limited in distribution, if you hop on the site www.australiansucculent.com you can get your hands on a copy.
Editor: Etanica by Horticolour Oct 2007
Today I bought your new book on Aus Succulents. Congratulations, it is beautiful and most informative for a plant man like me. It is a most welcome addition to my library.
I am one of the designers of the Australian Garden at Cranbourne.......
Paul Thompson AILA
Registered Landscape Architect - a designer of the Australian Garden within the Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne (a division of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne).
Thankyou for the copy of the Aust succulents book, and congratulations on a superb production. I don't know a thing about plants aside from orchids, but I found the book very well presented, nicely laid out, easy and interesting to read, and well illustrated, especially with the combination of plants in habitat and close-ups. It really is a lovely book, you must feel justifiably proud of having prepared and produced such a fine production. Congratulations again.
Kind regards, Gary Backhouse
Senior Policy Officer - Threatened Species Recovery Programs
Threatened Species and Communities Unit
Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Division
Department of Sustainability and Environment
Burke’s Backyard Magazine November issue 2007. p 81.
This book will change gardening in Australia. It is about succulent plants that store water in their leaves, branches, trunks or roots. We all know of cacti that come from the Americas, but we have no knowledge of Australian native succulent plants. Until reading Attila Kapitany’s book I had no idea how many beautiful and fascinating succulent plants Australia has: jellybeans from WA, Parakeelyas from Central Australia, and living stones, for example. As well, it features ant-house plants and everything from flowering groundcovers to bottletrees. Many orchids are succulent, as are Gymea lilies. About 100 species are covered including where to source them. There are exquisitely useful plants throughout. Highly recommended.
Australia’s leading gardening personality & TV Show host and producer.
New Zealand Cactus & Succulent Society JOURNAL
vol. 60, No. 4, November 2007 (pp.145 -146)
(Reviewed by two writers - see below).
As one of the editors of this book, I was very privileged to see it evolve and grow. The scope of the work and the photos are breathtaking, exciting, pleasing to the eye, and inspiring to the mind. Moreover, it is unique. The book portrays the Australian landscape in a different way to the typically iconic or stereotyped view that is prevalent in most geobotanical publications. It shows a familiar landscape that is portrayed in a way that may at first seem foreign to some readers. It is a landscape presented as being “alive with succulents”, a historically neglected and sadly often overlooked aspect of the geobotanical reality of the Australian landscape.
Succulent plants may be greatly outnumbered by other more “familiar” kinds of indigenous flora, yet, as this book proves, they still manage to pervade virtually every landscape throughout Australia. The book finds many of those species that can, to the casual observer, seem lost within the vastness of the landscape. It captures a different shot of the reality of this landscape. We are shown how a land that is so vast and varied can also be very accommodating to a surprising variety of interesting succulent species - all capable of intriguing and rewarding our senses.
This is not only a book for the succulent enthusiast, but it will also be of great value to botanists, environmentalists and lovers of Australian native flora. It will be the first of its kind, as no author to date has tackled the highly specialised and varied field of native succulent flora in a single publication. The fact that Attila has done so, in a way that is so cohesive and accessible, is a great credit to him.
Ian Menkins, Oakey, Queensland, Australia.
(An amateur botanist, field naturalist and guide of the Toowoomba area in Queensland, who has amassed knowledge of the local succulent flora both in the field and in cultivation that cannot be rivalled).
To Ian’s excellent appraisal may I add that Attila has been very courageous investing so much time, travel and money into such as esoteric yet fascinating subject. I firmly believe that projects such as this deserve full support from the succulent plant fraternity.
For those of us interested in succulent plants this magnificent book will be an invaluable resource. Attila has informed me that it will never be reprinted, so once again in the world of succulent plants we have another book that will probably become a rare and valued collector’s piece. I have no hesitation in recommending it to all interested persons.
Didge Rowe, Kopu, Thames, New Zealand
(An author of botanical articles in journals around the world and the web, specialising in Aizoaceae (Mesembryanthemaceae). A regular contributor to this NZ journal).
Sub Tropical Gardening magazine Issue 9 2007 p. 21
Are you familiar with some of our native succulents? I must admit I wasn't and this book is a revelation. I'm now going to be trying to track down some of these plants for my own garden.
The photos are stunning. Almost all are taken in habitat, which helps give a better idea of how these plants grow in the wild and could be used to effect in a garden.
The book covers an extensive selection of succulent plants, divided into four categories: ground plants; rock and tree dwellers; shrubs; and trees. Each plant is discussed in detail including a description and information on its habitat. There is also a map noting distribution.
This book illustrates the author's extensive knowledge and enthusiasm on this subject.
It is an indispensable book for those interested in growing succulent plants, drought tolerant plants and our own native flora.
Botanic News Summer 2007 -08 (Quarterly magazine of the Friends of the Botanic Gardens, Melbourne) p. 14 (extract)
...........Each plant has a short description, in generally non-technical terms, and clear and very beautiful photographs (many taken by Michele Kapitany) showing the plant's interesting features and how it grows in its native habitat. The plants vary from tiny ground covers (such as Calandrinia pumila) to large trees (such as Brachychiton australis) and orchids (Dendrobium speciosum). They vary in looks from quite beautiful to quite bizarre. The range and variety are eye-opening. Many of them are among the most drought or dry tolerant of all plants, though some are not always obviously succulent. The book appears to be very well researched and referenced. There are additional notes providing a background on this group and associated plants, as well as cultivation, conservation and other items of interest. Attila Kapitany claims that his ambition is to 'research and promote the greater appreciation and awareness of Australian native plants, especially those that are considered succulent' and with this book he shows that he is on the way to realising it.
Growing Australia Official quarterly publication of the Australian Plant Society - Victoria December 2007 Vol. 51.3 No. 202 p. 15
Congratulations are in order to Attila for the production of this absolutely beautiful book. It covers a group of plants that, until now, have been very much neglected by most growers of Australian plants. His wife Michele has taken most of the photographs in the book and these are among the very best photographs I have seen of any plants. Michele and Attila must have travelled thousands and thousands of kilometres over a number of years in some pretty remote places to find, photograph and document the plants in the book.
From my plant stalls at local markets it is obvious that the demand for drought tolerant plants is on a sharp increase. People now want water smart gardens - it has been forced on them through water restrictions but, as well, many are realising the beauty and diversity of succulents. And if the plant in question is an Australian native succulent, then to my mind, these plants have it all - tough and beautiful. I'm not sure how many native succulents I grow - but there are lots. 'Succulent' plants possess water storage tissue either in their leaves, stems, trunks or roots and thus if you accept that definition (there is conjecture as to what plants are considered succulent) then the range is truly diverse. Some one hundred species from 40 genera. The plants are arranged in sections: Ground plants, such as bulbine lillies, calandrinias (soooooooooo stunning), carpobrotus, disphyma, tetragonia; Rock and Tree dwellers (crassula, dendrobiums, hoyas, and then Shrubs such as maireanas and plectranthus and Trees (Adansonias, Bombax, Brachychiton).
The other facinating areas covered are animal associations. I regularly do work for Greening Australia where I study the plants of the salt marshes; these studies are funded to protect the habitat of the Orange Bellied Parrot which feed on many of the succulent plants in this rare plant community and the sight of huge areas of the beaded glasswort in full glorious red is unforgettable. Edible succulent plants, naturalised and weedy succulents, cultivation, new discoveries, conservation, where to buy succulent plants, places of interest are also included, as well as an enormous listing of reference books.
This stunning book is well set out, extremely colourful and inspirational. The captions on the photographs are informative and clear. The production of this book is a first for this contemporary group of native plants.
Cherree Densley Vice-president APS (Australian Plant Society) - Victoria
Cactus and Succulent Journal Vol. 79 No. 6, November - December 2007 . Bi-monthly journal of the Cactus & Succulent Sociey of America
Extracts from a lengthy review pp. 280-281:
...sumptuous photographs of even the most emphemeral among them inspires interest....
A number of plants featured are of the most exciting kind: the bizarre, the rare, the hard-to-obtain, the coveted. Five species of Myrmecodia and one Hydnophytum are each treated in a full spread or more showing large plants clinging to trees and others in cultivation, cut open to reveal a striking symbiosis.....
...For those of us happy to get our fix in pictures, this book has the best I've seen..
...There is much to be learned about the succulents of Australia, and this book will certainly stimulate new interest and experimentation along this largely unexplored horticultural frontier.
D. Russell Wagner, Editor
The Daily, Sunshine Coast Daily (newspaper), Queensland - December the 14th 2007 p.53 extracts
Australian Succulent Plants by Attila Kapitany is a must read for everyone who really cares about Australian flora, with superb photography and descriptive details of some 100 of the estimated 400 native plants considered to be succulents.
The author has some 30 years experience in the field, and that together with the knowledge he has gained in his wide-ranging travel around Australia and the assistance of prominent botanists, has enabled him to self-publish this remarkable book........
.....This is the book for anyone, particularly garden lovers, concerned about our changing climate....
Gerry & Valerie Zwart
Australian Horticulture (monthly magazine) January 2008 pp. 6-7 extracts
One of my last duties as editor has been to look back over many excellent new books that have arrived in this office in recent weeks.
Among them is one that stands out as being not only beautifully presented but particularly timely, given Australia's continuing battle with drought (isolated deluges of the Christmas week notwithstanding).
Australian succulent plants: an introduction, by Attila Kapitany, is an outstanding publication: 240 pages, hardbound and with full colour throughout.....
The author has included a comprehensive collection of images of the little-known but fascinating ant-house plant (Hydnophytum and Myrmecodia species), also from Far north Queensland, along with insitu photographs of all 100 odd species described in his text, in many cases accompanied by further shots of each plant in cultivation.
Kapitany financed this publishing project himself, so determined was he to see this very worthy book find its way into print - quite a commitment, given its exceptionally high production values. It is his sixth book on succulents released in the last few years. ....
Rosalea Ryan, Editor