Book Review: The Ferns and Lycophytes of Texas

Donovan Stewart Correll was a prolific Texas botanist and author of numerous articles and books. Correll inspired generations of Texas botanists and in his memory the Native Plant Society of Texas presents an annual award for scientific writing in the area of native plants. This year that award went to George M. Diggs, Jr. and Barney Lipscomb for their book The Ferns and Lycophytes of Texas. This seems especially appropriate since the authors dedicated their book to Correll, whose first major work on Texas botany also concerned ferns and fern-like plants.

Ferns and lycophytes have neither seeds or flowers. They are considered primitive plants on the evolutionary scale. This new book is the first major book on ferns in Texas since Correll’s book was published in 1956 and benefits from advances in science that allow us to understand much more about these plants and how they evolved.

There are 127 known species of ferns and lycophytes in Texas, more than almost any other state. This book contains all of them and includes drawings and color photos, maps showing the distribution in both Texas and North America, and keys for identification. An extensive introduction describes where ferns occur in Texas and how they have adapted to the dryness and conditions of the regions in Texas. There is also a companion online resource.

The book is a good choice for amateur botanists who want to learn more about this interesting group of plants and be able to identify them. It’s only 380 pages and highly affordable. You can obtain it at the BRIT store in Fort Worth or online.