Esau’s Plant anatomy: meristems, cells, and tissues of the plant body: their structure, function, and development / Rev. ed. of: Plant anatomy / Katherine Esau. Title, Plant anatomy. Author, Katherine Esau. Edition, 2. Publisher, Wiley, Original from, the University of Michigan. Digitized, Sep 3, Length, Title, Plant anatomy. Author, Katherine Esau. Edition, reprint. Publisher, Wiley, Original from, the University of Michigan. Digitized, Feb 24,

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There are few more iconic texts in botany than Esau’s Plant Anatomy. For decades, it has served the structural educational needs of many generations of plant biologists. kaatherine

Katherine Esau

How daunting, then, must be the task of revising this mighty tome? And what a relief that the gauntlet has anwtomy taken up by one of plant structure—function’s most well-known names aantomy after the great lady herself — Ray Evert. There is a gap of over four decades between the last edition of the Esau book and the present 3rd edition. So much has happened in the intervening anqtomy to reveal new ways of looking at plant anatomy — the TEM revolution which has all but come and gone in the conventional sensethe irresistible rise of molecular biology, and the birth of immunological studies — that the plant structure—function landscape is now dramatically different and a new edition is long overdue.

But there is nothing wrong with that: After Chapter 1 — an overview of the plant body — Chapters 2—17 follow a well-trodden path of building up the plant body: Whilst including the ultrastructural components of cells, it is a book primarily devoted to anatomy revealed at the light-microscope level, although also incorporating recent physiological and molecular studies.

In assimilating those latter insights it proves that plant anatomy is not a static subject; it still has much to offer and is extremely relevant in providing context and framework for interpretation of molecular genetic studies; and, in their turn, molecular investigations deepen our appreciation and understanding of plant structure—function. This section alone attests to the tremendous range of references that were read in preparing the work, and emphasizes the breadth of studies that contribute to present-day plant anatomy.


The text is good, up-to-date and readable. Each section in a chapter is generally headed by a statement — essentially a summary or main conclusion of the subsequent text — which makes for a series of bullet points that are an ideal basis for a lecture on that chapter’s topic.

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And, as you might expect for such a visual topic, it is profusely illustrated throughout with plenty of images, many of which make use of Evert’s extensive repertoire of plant anatomical studies.

Although none are in colour, this is not a major disadvantage since much of the anatomy considered is more than adequately illustrated in black-and-white. From an inclusivity point of view, it is all there. What isn’t there is arguably the more exciting stuff of plant anatomy — how these structural units are organized katjerine the tremendous variety of roots, shoots, fruits, etc of the plant body.

But nowhere could I find mention of a companion volume to deal with these aspects of anatomy. This is an obvious missing anatomj, and one which could benefit from the Evert touch. Surely a Part 2 is intended? If not, why not? On a pedagogic note — is lpant any chance that the book’s images could also be made available separately?

Such a visual subject as plant anatomy is eminently worthy of this treatment, and it would be a way of giving access to the full-colour version of text images without increasing the cost of the hard copy. Also timely might be a separate chapter — possibly full-colour, web-only? This need not be long, but would provide an important interpretational context for the studies, and have considerable educational value.


The Preface claims that the book has been primarily planned for advanced students, researchers and teachers. The book also makes two important pleas — we need to ensure that plant anatomy continues to be taught in universities and is not sacrificed on the altar of modernity, to appease the gods of gel and gene.

We also need to extend our knowledge of plant anatomy from those unrepresentative temperate crops to embrace the tremendous diversity of sub- tropical species Preface, page xvi.

These remain challenges for future editions, and future generations. Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

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