Flowers in the spring

The Wildflowers of Ireland

Mary Litton

Spring seems to be here – even if only in a small way. So this book will be very handy for expeditions by car or foot into the countryside. Not everyone who talks to the hills and woods can name the plants and flowers they see. But this book, which will fit neatly in the pocket or backpack, will aid that.

The author provides a systematic scientific-based way to identify each plant from its observable characteristics. The illustrations are from photographs, which also are not often as clear as drawing would be, but which give the reader at least some impression of how the plant appears in its natural context.

Zoë Devlin, now in retirement, has done an amazing amount of work tracking down these plants. She has recorded some 530 species and the book carries some 1,200 of her photographs of them. The information and illustrations are set out in an easily understood and straightforward way. The jargon of botany is demystified completely. In the seven pages of her introduction she packs a great deal of essential information. She also provides in addition to the common names and scientific titles, the Gaelic names of the plants as well.

There are many rarities here, and Zoë Devlin reminds her readers that plants need protection too. They should not be cut or dug up though it might be a nice idea to send in a record of a sighting to the National Biodiversity Data centre. She appeals to her readers to respect the countryside code: “leave only footprint, take away only memories.

Zoë Devlin’s earlier book, which explores the lore and legends of Ireland’s flora, Wildflowers of Ireland: A Personal Record (Collins Press, €29.00/£26.99) is also available. Here her passion and joy in flowers finds full expression.