Books: Tropical America

The following list of publications represents a limited selection of the books on Tropical American botany produced by, or with the collaboration of, Kew. For more information, and to purchase copies, visit the Kew Books website or click on the images.

The book provides an important, accessible information resource for students, researchers, conservation managers and ecotourists. Copies of the manual can be purchased from Fundação Ecológica Cristalino.

Vegetação e Plantas do Cristalino

Denise Sasaki, Daniela Zappi, William Milliken, Dracieli da Silva Henicka & José Piva

Royal Botanic Gardens Kew/Fundação Ecológica Cristalino, 2011

This richly illustrated manual to the principal vegetation types and selected plant species of the Cristalino region constitutes one of the principal outputs from Programa Flora Cristalino. The Cristalino region, locates in the extreme north of the State of Mato Grosso, at the edge of the Amazon's 'arc of deforestation', is one of the highest conservation prioritiesw in the Brazilian Amazon. Diverse human activities have caused siginificant levels of biodiversity loss in an area whose fauna and flora are still relatively poorly known from the scientific perspective.

Urihi a - A terra-Floresta Yanomami

Bruce Albert & William Milliken

Instituto Socioambiental, São Paulo, 2010

The first detailed Portuguese-language account of the ethnobotany of the Yanomami Indians of Brazil. This book, the product of a long-standing collaboration between an anthropologist, an ethnobotanist, a linguist and an indigenous community, explores the complex relationships between an Amazonian forest people and their environment. With an introduction by Davi Kopenawa.

Plantas y Vegetación de Ica, Peru

Oliver Whaley, Alfonso Orellana, Evelyn Pérez, Mario Tenorio, Félix Quinteros, Marco Mendoza, Octavio Pecho

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 2010

The first detailed account of the vegetation and plants of the southern Peruvian coast, this richly illustrated Spanish-language book is designed as a resource for conservation, environmental education and the restoration of native habitats.

A Monograph of Cedrela

T.D. Pennington & A.N. Muellner

DH Books, 2010

Cedrela has had over 250 years of commercial exploitation and is one of the most important Tropical American hardwoods - perhaps now the most important. This work supplies the scientific information vital to support the conservation and sustainable use of its subject genus. Seventeen species are here recognised, in contrast with eleven in the previous account. Fieldwork has recognised four previously undescrbed species, while DNA studies suggest that the heavily traded Cedrela odorata has multiple origins and may comprise at least three distinct species. Such information is critical to planning the long-term future of the genus. Published in the International Year of Biodiversity, this work is a conservation tool for foresters, planners, researchers and policy makers.

Illustrated Guide to the Trees of Peru

T.D. Pennington, C. Reynel & A. Daza.

DH Books, 2004

This is the first comprehensive, illustrated account of the genera and families of Peruvian trees. It will be an essential guide for students, botanists, foresters, tourists and conservationists. Designed for Peru, it will also be valuable in other Andean countries such as Ecuador and Bolivia.

A Field Guide to the Pines of Mexico and Central America

A. Farjon, J.A. Perez de la Rosa & B.T. Styles.

Kew Publishing, 1997

Pines are among the most important timber producing trees in the world, with more than 100 species distributed widely in the northern hemisphere. Mexico and Central America are the most diverse region, with 47 species. This identification guide is based upon a critical taxonomic study published by the first two authors and presented in easy-to-use form. A full page line drawing and a distribution map accompany each species described.

A Revision of Tabernaemontana, Vol. 2: The New World Species and Stemmadenia

A. J. M. Leeuwenberg 

Kew Publishing, 1994

Systematic treatment of the South American species of the two genera; with 109 line drawings and 56 distribution maps.

Cacti of Eastern Brazil

N. Taylor & D. Zappi

Kew Publishing, 2004

New floristic monograph, 15 years in the making, which covers the histories of discovery and classification, phytogeography and conservation, as well as providing comprehensive aids to identification with keys to and coloured illustrations of all named and accepted taxa. A lavish addition is the section of 51 full colour distribution maps. This is the first comprehensive account of the family in the region since 1890 - and is set to become the standard work on Brazilian cacti for many years to come.

El genero Inga en al Ecuador - Morfologia, Distribucion y Usos

T. D. Pennington and C. Reynel 

Kew Publishing, 1997

This book describes the 75 Ecuadorian species of Inga (Leguminosae - Mimosideae). Each species has a short botanical description, a superb full-page line illustration, a distribution map and information on phenology, ecology, actual and potential uses. there is an introductory chapter on utilization, species selection, seed collection and storage, propogation and management. Also included is a key for the identification of species, glossary of botanical terms, list of herbarium specimens studied and indexes of scientific and vernacular names.

El genero Inga en el Peru - Morfologia, Distribucion y Usos

C. Reynel and T. D. Pennington 

Kew Publishing, 1997

This book describes the 91 known Peruvian species of Inga (Leguminosae-Mimosoideae). Each species has a short botanical description, a superb full-page line illustration, a distribution map and information on phenology, ecology, actual and potential uses. There is an account of the ecology and vegetation of Peru and a chapter on utilization, species selection, seed collection and storage, propagation and management. Also included is a key for the identification of species, glossary of botanical terms, list of herbarium specimens studied and indexes of scientific and vernacular names.

Ethnobotany of the Waimiri Atroari Indians of Brazil

W. Milliken, R. Miller, S. Pollard & E. Wandelli

Kew Publishing, 1992

The Waimiri Atroari are a Carib-speaking Amazonian people whose population has declined since intensive contact with the outside world commenced in the 1970s. This is a study of their ethnobotany, with quantitative data for their use of the 214 tree and liana species in one hectare of terra firme forest. Seven principal plant use categories are discussed: food, technology, medicine, construction, fuel, ritual and commerce; and plant-use data are presented for over 300 species, together with information regarding their distribution and ecology.

Flora Da Reserva Ducke: Guia de identificacao das plantas vasculares de una floresta de terra-firme na Amazonia Central

Jose Eduardo L. da S. Ribero et al. 


This splendid colour field guide is essential for anyone working or travelling in the Amazon. Covering over 2,000 species - all illustrated in colour - from some 125 families, each family has an introduction followed by abundant colour photos of floral, fruit and vegetative diagnostic characteristics for each species. The introduction includes a broad, and beautifully illustrated overview of the vegetation and ecology of the Amazon region. This work is written in Portugese, but language is not a barrier to its use - anyone with even a basic knowledge of botany will find this book a joy to use and outstanding value.

Flora of the Guianas. Series A: Phanerogams Fascicle 22.

M.J. Jansen-Jacobs (ed.)

Kew Publishing, 2003

This fascicule contains revisions of the families Phytolaccaceae, Nyctaginaceae, Aizoaceae, Chenopodiaceae, Amaranthaceae, Portulaceae, Basellaceae, Molluginaceae, Caryophyllaceae, Sarraceniaceae, Droseraceae.

Flora of the Pico das Almas

B.L. Stannard

Kew Publishing, 1995

The Pico das Almas, in the Serra de Espinhaco, is one of the highest peaks in eastern Brazil, with a rich and varied flora including many endemic orchids and bromeliads. Keys and descriptions of over 1,200 vascular plant species so far recorded follow an introduction to the environment and biogeography of the area. 8 colour plates and 51 full-page figures enhance the text.

Hatschbach's Parana Grasses

S.A. Renvoize 

Kew Publishing, 1988

Systematic list, with taxonomic keys, of all the grasses sent to Kew by Gert Hatschbach from southern and central Brazil between 1965 and 1985.

Legumes of Bahia

G.P. Lewis

Kew Publishing, 1987

A detailed taxonomic account, with illustrations, of the Leguminosae of the State of Bahia, Brazil.

Plants for Malaria, Plants for Fever: Medicinal Species in Latin America - a Bibliographic Survey

W. Milliken

Kew Publishing, 1997

Listing of plants occurring in northern Latin America used in malaria and fever treatment. Additional information includes region where plant is used, plant parts used, screening results for malaria treatment, habitat and chemical constituents.

Preliminary List of the Rubiaceae in Northeastern Brazil

D. Zappi & T.S. Nunes 

Kew Publishing, 2002

A checklist of the Rubiaceae of the region, with bilingual text - English/Portuguese

Richard Spruce (1817-1893): Botanist and Explorer

M.R.D. Seaward and S.M.D. Fitzgerald (eds.)

Kew Publishing, 1996

This book explores Richard Spruce's outstanding contribution to Amazonian botany. He explored South America for 15 years, from Para in Brazil to the Andes of Ecuador and Peru, discovered thousands of plants new to science, and amassed information from local people on their uses and customs.

The Agarics of Sao Paulo

D.N. Pegler

Kew Publishing, 1997

A systematic key to the agaric flora of Sao Paulo province, Brazil.

The Genus Inga - Botany

T.D. Pennington

Kew Publishing, 1997

The genus Inga is a large group of forest trees restricted to South America. This monograph describes and maps 258 species. Of these 253 are illustrated, and information is presented on distribution, ecology, field characteristics and species relationships. Additional chapters cover morphology, wood and bark anatomy, cytology, non-protein amino acid chemistry, flavonoid chemistry, variation, relationships and distribution, and uses. There is a full list of exsiccatae and indexes to scientific and vernacular names.

The Genus Inga: Utilization

T. D. Pennington and E. C. M. Fernandes

Kew Publishing, 1998

Grown for over 2,000 years as a food crop, Inga is now widely used commercially as a shade tree for coffee,
cocoa and tea, and a fuel for cooking. But, increasingly, it is finding an importance in reforestation. This book explores all aspects of cultivation, management and economic uses, and is an essential companion volume to The Genus Inga - Botany.

The genus Stachytarpheta (Verbenaceae) in Brazil

Sandy Atkins

Kew Publishing, 2005

A thorough revision of the genus as it occurs in Brazil, with illustrations and keys to the 79 recognised species. Reprinted from Kew Bulletin Vol. 60 (2).

Threatened Cacti of Mexico

E.F. Anderson, A. Arias Montes &and N.P. Taylor

Kew Publishing, 1994

Extensively illustrated in colour, this is an account of 52 taxa of Mexican cacti under threat. Habit and habitats are described and threats analysed together with possible action. A very practical chapter on propagation as a means of safeguarding wild populations is included.

Wild Flowers of the Chapada Diamantina

R.M. Harley and A.M. Giulietti 

RIME Editore, 2004

An attractive and well-illustrated account of a selection of botanical walks in the mountains of NE Brazil. The trails followed include the Estrada Real and the route to the Pico das Almas summit. Text is in both English and Portuguese.

Yanomami A Forest People - Advances in Amazonian Ethnobotany

W. Milliken, B. Albert and G.G. Gomez with Illustrations by J. Rutherford 

Kew Publishing, 1999

A scholarly and fascinating book about the remarkable relationship between a forest people and their environment - the watershed between the Brazilian Amazon and the Venezuelan Orinoco. Largely based on original research, it provides a fascinating insight into their cultural and intricate knowledge of plants, animals and the ecology of the environment in which they live. Lavishly illustrated through with half-tones, colour photographs and paintings by Jane Rutherford.