A guide to the Lowland Flora of the Pacific Islands

by W. Arthur Whistler, Ph.D.


Wayside Plants of the Islands covers the most common wayside plants or "weeds" found in the disturbed lowlands the Pacific islands. Weeds thrive in disturbed habitats, and because the lowlands of the Pacific islands have been so disturbed by human activities, they are the most common plants (other than, perhaps, crop plants and ornamentals) found in these areas. Crop plants and ornamentals were usually intentionally introduced and their continued presence depends upon the help of humans. Most weeds, on the other hand, were accidentally introduced and have become naturalized (i.e., they are able to reproduce and spread on their own).

Hundreds of plants have been introduced to the Pacific islands over the last three millennia, but only a few hundred have become significant weeds in the area. Wayside Plants of the Islands covers the most common 170 species. These species tend to be widely distributed in the islands, with Hawai'i having 153 of them, Samoa 120, Tonga 106, the Society Islands 121, Fiji 121, Guam 138, and Palau 102. Another 88 species are discussed in the text but not featured. The species are arranged in the book into the two natural groups, dicots and monocots, and within these two by family, and finally, in alphabetical order by scientific name within the family. A table at the front of the book lists the distribution of the species, including the 88 mentioned but not featured species.

A page is devoted to each of the 170 species, and each has detailed, close-up color photo. For each species, the following information is included: (1) scientific name; (2) family to which the plant belongs; (3) common names (if any); (4) distribution within the Pacific islands; (5) botanical description; (6) date of introduction to the islands; (7) habitat and elevation; (8) distinguishing characteristics; (9) synonyms (names now considered incorrect, but used in the previous literature); and (10) related species in the area. The last part of the book includes a glossary of botanical terms, indices to scientific and common names, and a selected bibliography.

Because of the quality photos and the botanical descriptions, this book is ideal for identifying the most common naturalized plants in the area, and is well suited as a text book for weed science classes. It is available in a soft bound edition, which is preferred by many hikers, or in a hand cover edition, which is best for libraries and book collectors.

Pages: 202Color Photos: 170
Size: 6 x 9 inchesBinding: softbound or hard cover
Cost: $19.95Publisher: Isle Botanica
Publication Date: 1995