The nature of plants
The nature of plants - habitats, challenges and adaptions

By John Dawson and Rob Lucas


Published in 2005 by CSIRO Publishing, colour, hard cover, 314 pages


Price $A64.95 plus $A13.50 postage within Australia [up to 3 kg], overseas postage please request a quote


ISBN 0643091610 or ISBN 9780643091610

  • Description
  • About the authors
  • Table of contents

A book about how plants adapt to their habitats, taking the reader on a tour of plant habitats from the seashore up into the mountains, and from the tropics to the poles. Illustrated with superb colour photographs and written in a way that is clear to anyone who wishes to understand the life of plants.


Some plants live in places that provide too little rainfall, yet they thrive, either by evading drought, or by tolerating the scarcity. Others have adapted to living with too much water, dispersing their fruits and seeds without having floods and tides to carry them away into the sea. There are plants that must live with fire, and others that grow in areas of deadening cold. Plants that flourish on salty or toxic soils, some even concentrating lethal substances in their tissue. Plants that use other plants, climbing on them, strangling some, living in their leafy canopies, or parasitizing them.


This book also explores the love-hate relationship that plants have with animals, some feeding on plants, others drawn into service by pollinating them or scattering seeds, some being eaten themselves. The mostly hidden associations that plants have with bacteria and fungi are also revealed.


About the authors


John Dawson is retired from Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand but continues to study plants. He received his doctorate in botany from the University of California, Berkeley.


Rob Lucas is a lecturer in the Natural Resources Centre of the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand.


Table of contents



Chapter One - The freeloaders - Plants using plants

Chapter Two - Not enough water - The plants of deserts and seasonally arid places

Chapter Three - Rising from the ashes - Plants and fire

Chapter Four - Serpentine and salt - Coping with toxic soils

Chapter Five - Too much water - Plants of rivers, lakes, swamps and margins of the sea

Chapter Six - Too cold for trees - Mountain and Arctic plants

Chapter Seven - A love-hate relationship - Plants and animals

Chapter Eight - Mostly hidden relationships - Plants, fungi and bacteria

Chapter Nine - Plant evolution through the Ages - an overview