This book is intended for practical use. It is not conceived of as a coffee table or bookcase ornament; the entire plan and structure of the work is centered around utility.
The photographs have been chosen with a view toward sharpness of important features, clarity, color fidelity, and most of all, how well they represent the plant. You will find only a few drawings in this book, and these are mainly of a figurative nature. The trouble with using only botanical drawings for identification is that they represent a two-dimensional, colorless average of characteristics in an ideal plant that rarely exists. This presents a problem for the beginner in the field, who has a book of drawings in hand but sees no plants that resemble any of the drawings, or perhaps sees too many.
The photos are intended to show the plants as they really are, and most of the pictures have been made in the field. If some of the photographs seem pretty or artistic, that is just a bonus. Since no view of a plant or group of plants can show all the important characteristics one might wish to see, I have presented multiple views of them where necessary.
Occasionally, in the field, where the natural backgrounds tended to camouflage, I have had to resort to the use of a neutral gray background, reflectors, or ancillary lighting to make the subjects stand out properly. Only a few pictures were made under studio conditions, using live plants from my collection. After having observed, grown, and worked with carnivorous plants for eighteen years, I felt capable of making a proper selection of cultivated plants for photography.
I have departed from the traditional botanical scheme of presenting species within a genus in alphabetical or other order, preferring to start with some common, more readily observed plants or those that would best illustrate general characteristics, or perhaps grouping similar species together so that comparisons could be seen.
The carnivorous fungi have been excluded. The book deals only with the green seedplants. Fungi require culture and microscopes for proper observation, and the species are in a state of taxonomic disarray at present. While fascinating and certainly deserving of further study, they are not ready for this sort of presentation.
The text is not complete in the classical botanical sense of a monograph, but it was not intended to be. On the other hand, the occasional or beginning naturalist may find more than he needs and can easily be selective in what he reads. Those interested in further study will find references on many levels at the end of the book.
I would like to thank John F. Blair, Publisher, and his staff for taking on this project in the first place, and then seeing it through to a quality production. Warren P. Stoutamire was kind enough to read portions of the text and offer many useful suggestions. Letters and discussions with Peter Taylor and Katsu-hiko Kondo were very helpful to me in developing my tentative concepts of the difficult taxonomy of Utricu-laria, but I bear full responsibility for the system presented in Chapter 7, including errors. Finally, I offer tenderest appreciation to my wife Brenda, who has been patient and encouraging during the preparation of this book and who has accompanied me on many field trips, often serving as my stern early-warning system for potentially dangerous reptiles, quicksand, and treacherous bogholes.
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