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Full text of "[untitled] Botanical Gazette, (1912-08-01), pages 166-167"

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Forest physiography 1 

This volume, intended primarily for the use of foresters, will be of very 
great value to ecologists, even to those working upon problems which are 
unrelated to forests. Its field of usefulness extends farther still, for it is the 
first work in which the much-scattered literature dealing with the physiography 
of various parts of the United States has been summarized and systematized. 
It will thus be frequently consulted by geologists, geographers, economists, 
and travelers. The ecologist as a rule must work out for himself the physio- 
graphic processes which are in immediate operation in his field of study. The 
value of Professor Bowman's work will be found to lie principally along two 
lines: in the clearing up of the physiographic history of the region, and in 
comparison of the field of study with other parts of its physiographic region 
and with other regions. 

The book comprises two parts. Part I is entitled "The soil," and is a 
summary of the present knowledge of that subject as it pertains to forest 
growth. This section is included because the influence of the physiographic 
processes upon forests is exerted largely through the formation, modification, 
and destruction of soils. It seems to the present writer that a better plan 
would have been to expand this section into a separate work, since the two 
parts of the book are essentially independent. The topics treated are as 
follows: importance, origin, and diversity of soils; physical features; water 
supply; temperature; chemical features; humus and nitrogen supply; soils 
of arid regions; soil classification. 

In part II the physiography of the United States is considered by regions, 
each subdivision having "an essential uniformity or unity of geologic and 
physiographic conditions," and therefore a uniform topographic expression 
in the main. The sequence is from west to east. An introductory chapter 
discusses physiographic, climatic, and forest regions. In consideration of 
climate, full recognition is given to the combined effect of the various factors 
upon plant distribution, and yet Merriam's "life zones" are accepted, although 
they are based upon temperature alone. 

The chapters devoted to the various physiographic regions are largely 
descriptive of the present topography, with only such geologic details as are 
necessary to explain it. As the author remarks in the preface, the forester 

"Bowman, Isaiah, Forest physiography, pp. xxii+759. pis. 6. figs. 292. New 
York: John Wiley & Son, 191 1. 



is concerned with the relief of a region rather than with its geologic history. 
At the same time, the historical treatment is entirely adequate to satisfy the 
needs of an ecologist, and abundant references to the literature are given for 
the benefit of any who wish more detailed information. To illustrate the 
mode of treatment, the section devoted to the Adirondack Mountains may 
be cited. The subdivisions are as follows: geologic structure, topography 
and drainage, glacial effects, climate and forests. 

The notes upon the forests which are appended to most of the sections 
are the least satisfactory portions of the work, being so brief and general as 
to be almost useless, and in one case at least inaccurate. The conifer forest 
of the southern Appalachian summits is referred to in three places. On p. 122 
it is correctly described as "spruce and balsam." On p. 125 we read of the 
"spruce and hemlock forests on the summits of the Pisgah and other ranges 
in western North Carolina, where boreal conditions exist." The hemlock 
in these mountains is found principally in deep ravines in the lower hardwood 
forest belt, and rarely attains to the lower margin of the spruce-balsam forest. 
On p. 614 occurs the statement that "on the higher summits of the Great 
Smoky, Pisgah, and Balsam Mountains are a few thousand acres of black 
spruce," with no mention of the balsam, which is the more important of the 
two. On the same page, the author places the hemlock where it rightly 
belongs, in "shaded ravines and on the better watered northern or north- 
western slopes between 3000 and 5000 feet." 

The book is adequately illustrated and has valuable physiographic and 
geologic maps. Its great weight is to be regretted, in a volume which one 
would wish to carry upon his travels. — William S. Cooper. 

A Yosemite flora 

Professor and Mrs. H. M. Hall of the University of California are pioneers 
in the production of a local flora or handbook of one of our great natural 
playgrounds. Scores and scores of other local floras have been produced, 
but these have been as a rule mere check lists, and in all cases were intended 
to meet a local need. In this Flora of the Yosemite 2 we have a handbook that 
will find its largest use among strangers to the region. It is hardly necessary 
to call attention to the small size of this National Park as compared with the 
size of the great state of California, nor to the great size of the Park botanically 
considered. Within its 1024 square miles there are probably more kinds of 
soil and climate than can be found in any equal area in the world. This 
varied topography and climate have supplied the 955 species included in the 
flora. The grasses, sedges, and rushes are not included, but the authors 
conservatively estimate that these would swell the number to 1200, a number 
probably as great as that of an entire state in the prairie region. 

2 Hall, Harvey Monroe and Carlotta Case, A Yosemite flora. San Fran- 
cisco: Paul Elder & Co. $2 . 16.