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Cactus and Succulent Illustrated References

Good All-round

Globular Cacti Heaven

Succulent Heaven

More Succulents

Illustrated reference books are targeted towards the experienced collector, one who has outgrown beginner's guide books. After a while, a beginner usually recognizes that there is incredible diversity in the succulent plant kingdom. For the person who don't want all the botanical information, but wishes to know more, the illustrated reference book is the ideal addition to the library. It's the next step in your education as a cactus and succulent collector. It provides a balanced potpourri -- some horticultural information, some botanical information, and the most important of all, loads and loads of pictures .

On the subject of buying, one cannot approach buying such references in the same way one buys a guide book. You don't need each and every guide book, but eventually you will want each and every reference book. Resistance is futile... but believe me, these reference books are well worth the money.

Clive Innes, Charles Glass, Clive Times
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Cacti
Book Sales: 2001
ISBN 0785813586

Browse or buy at

Note: Was available in Malaysia, now seldom seen (Grange Books published my 1997 edition)

I refer to Innes and Glass' book quite often. Its per-species information is quite extensive compared to that of Cacti: The Illustrated Dictionary. The latter book, along with the reviewed book, are two of the most popular cacti reference books for the non-botanist. There are over 1200 photographs in the book, and columar and globose cacti are given equal treatment.

I believe there is an errata list for the earlier edition somewhere on the Internet. I don't have the latest edition so I don't know if the errors have been corrected.

Rod Preston-Mafham & Ken Preston-Mafham
Cacti: The Illustrated Dictionary
Timber Press: 1997 (224 pages)
ISBN 0881924008

Browse or buy at

Note: Was available in Malaysia, one or two pops up now and then

Cacti: The Illustrated Dictionary contains only pictures of globose cacti, so you do miss out on some genus, especially those large columar types. However, if you prefer small globular species, it is no great loss not having columar species represented in the book. This book, along with Innes and Glass' book nicely complement each other. Over 1100 species are illustrated.

Since the authors are photographers, the quality of the photographs are very good. The plants in this book look better than in The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Cacti. However, there is very little per-species information. Indeed, there are no botany-style descriptions of species. For most collectors, this isn't a fatal problem, since we rely primarily on the photograph of the plant and its flower for identification. This is a really great book if you are picking globular cactus species for the purpose of buying their seed.

Maurizio Sajeva & Mariangela Costanzo
Succulents: The Illustrated Dictionary
Timber Press: 1997 (240 pages)
ISBN 0881923982

Browse or buy at

Note: Was available in Malaysia, now seldom seen (Cassel published my copy (1994))

Sajeva and Costanzo's book is my main reference on non-cactus succulents. This book is first and foremost a pictorial dictionary. Text descriptions are kept short, 20-30 words is the norm. I was properly amazed at the high quality pictures when I first bought it. Being a cactus person, the variety of succulents shown in the book is simply incredible. My knowledge of succulent genera has increased a thousand-fold since buying this book.

195 genera is illustrated. For a cactus person like myself, the book has opened my eyes to the much larger, amazing world of succulent plants. About 1200 pictures appear in the book, making it a valuable succulent plant reference for identification purposes. For many people like myself, it is about the only available succulent plant reference that is still in print, sufficiently detailed yet within an accessible price range.

Maurizio Sajeva & Mariangela Costanzo
Succulents II: The New Illustrated Dictionary
Timber Press: 2000 (240 pages)
ISBN 0881924490

Browse or buy at

Note: Not yet available in Malaysia, *sigh*

I don't have a copy of this book yet, so I will present here a brief summary of information gleaned from elsewhere. Again, there are over 1200 photographs. About 900 new species are illustrated. Many species appear again in this book, but I guess the authors have deemed it necessary, since juvenile and mature forms of a succulent sometimes differ quite a bit.

I think you can expect the same high quality and standard that was evident in the first book. If you have the money, this is a no-brainer. Or get both if you have not done so. The authors' works have made me a succulent believer. I'm not so flagrantly cacti now. Heh heh .

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  Last modified: 2002-08-26  Copyright © 1997-2002.  Kein-Hong Man.  all rights reserved