Succulent Plant Research Volume VIII. B5 224pp Softback
dh Books, Milborne Port 2014, mid-November.
Succulent Plant Research is the most substantial of several intermittently self-published emanations from the ever-prolific David Hunt. Most of them are back-up publications aimed at updating the New Cactus Lexicon of 2006. In 2002 we had Volume VI of the present series, co-authored with Nigel Taylor, a 255-page symposium of articles reviewing the Opuntioideae from differing angles, including DNA sequencing and seed characters. Now we are offered a further nine papers focusing largely on South American species, plus a checklist of North and Central American species and a general introduction to the latest DNA revelations from Majure and Puente. Finally, David Hunt provides a summing up of species in the format as recognised for a Newer-than-New Cactus Lexicon. There are abundant maps and fine colour plates, and some new cladograms to provide endless debate over the level at which to recognise genera, subgenera and other categories. Here the maximum split of 14 genera has been adopted, 11 of them with 10 or fewer species and two monotypic (Miqueliopuntia and Punotia). This would carry more conviction if supported by, say, a key to identify the different segregates. Until then I think the adoption of subgenera is a more attractive option.
This handsome volume is dedicated to James Iliff who died aged 91 on July 11 and is best remembered as co-author with Gilbert Leighton-Boyce of the Subgenus Tephrocactus in 1973.
Gordon D Rowley