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C&S CD-ROM and Botanical Books

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Cactus and Succulent CD-ROMs and Botanical Books

Lyman Benson
Cacti of the
United States
and Canada

There are three items on this page, one CD-ROM and two advanced C&S books. Botanically-inclined books are really for the advanced collector, when one realizes that the more popular guides and illustrated references aren't enough. The drawback is that in order to fully utilize the information in such books, one has to start to learn or grasp at least some botanical terminology. After all, botanical terminology evolved so that plants can be understood and classified clearly.

The CD-ROM and Mr. Anderson's book are the most up-to-date. Thoroughly recommended.

Philippe Faucon
Encyclopedia of Cacti and Succulents CD-ROM 2001 (1600 pages)
ISBN 097134020X

Browse or buy at

Note: Not available in Malaysia

This CD-ROM contains about 1600 species of cacti and succulents. There are over 4000 pictures. Owing to the capacity of the CD-ROM, Mr. Faucon is able to fit in many large photos. This is something you will not get online (for now). The CD-ROM also contain a synonym list, and horticultural information for individual species.

There is no reason not to get an encyclopedia on CD-ROM, if you are comfortable with using it on a computer. You might still prefer a book, though. A book does not require batteries, does not become obsolete, is easy on the eyes, does not power up in one minute or more, is portable, and is easy to mark and annotate.

Still, a single book cannot contain all the information on every genera and every species. A CD-ROM can hold all that. This might be the shape of things to come, though I think there is a place for books, a place for online sites, and a place for CDs in the future.

Edward F. Anderson
The Cactus Family
Timber Press: 2001 (776 pages)
ISBN 0881924989

Browse or buy at

Note: Not available in Malaysia

Mr. Anderson, a research botanist, has compiled a definitive reference on the Cactaceae. Note that not everyone is in agreement with the treatment of genera in the book, other people have different systems and opinions. Just so you'd know. Me, I don't go into such arguments. They are, after all, endless .

There are 125 genera and over 1800 species listed. Not all of the species described has photographs (there are over 1000 photographs), but that is not a serious problem because in theory the description should suffice. Some have complaint that the photographs are small, but I believe if one wants large photographs, one should get a CD-ROM, otherwise the author and publisher would have been forced to print the book in two or more volumes.

Since this is a botanical work, do not expect horticultural tips in the book. This book will help you understand the cactus family better, and get to grips with the thorny problem of taxonomy, classification and identification. Altogether a great book for your collection, and well worth the price.

No Picture
Lyman D. Benson
Cacti of the United States and Canada
Stanford University Press: 1983 (1044 pages)
ISBN 0804708630

Browse or buy at

Note: Not available in Malaysia, availability at may be limited.

I have not seen this book, but it is supposed to have about 1000 photographs (of which around 200 are colour photographs). This was a definitive book on cacti, but note that it covers cacti of the US and Canada. Since it was published in 1983, note that some of the plant names may have been changed since then.

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