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'The Anatomy of Palms' showcases the science and art inside palms

Smithsonian

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IMAGE:  "Anatomy of Palms " is a definitive reference showcasing both the science and art inside palms. view more

Credit: Oxford University Press; 2011

Palms are recognized as icons of the tropics, in addition to being the source of many economically significant products that extend relevance of the group to millions of people daily. Striking morphological and ecological variability characterize this family of about 183 genera and more than 2,400 species, and has inspired almost two centuries of botanical research.

Hidden from view, but no less compelling, is the internal structure of palms--an understanding of which is essential for interpreting many of the unique biological aspects of the family and discerning relationships among palm genera.

The Anatomy of Palms (Oxford University Press; 2011), a new book by P. Barry Tomlinson, James W. Horn (Department of Botany, Smithsonian Institution), and Jack B. Fisher is a definitive reference showcasing both the science and art inside palms.

The Anatomy of Palms has some 800 color photographs that document the extent of palm anatomical diversity. To give the preparations a more natural, hydrated appearance, and to overcome technical difficulties inherent in making microscope slides of palm tissues, many of the photos were custom-made for the book.

Palm biologists, plant anatomists, and curious botanists working in other disciplines will find that the book contains abundant new data, new interpretations, and new ideas for future studies.

The first section provides an overview of the diversity of vegetative structure in palms and an evolutionary analysis of anatomical characters across the entire family. The second section focuses on the systematic anatomy of palms and is a synthesis of anatomical observations in the context of the most recent classification of the family.

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