Book Review: South Coast Ferns. A complete guide to the ferns and fern allies of the NSW South Coast

By Andrew Orme

Kevin Mills, 2023 193 pages, $45.00. Full colour, map, index. Envirobook, Sussex Inlet – envirobook.com.au

“South Coast Ferns is a complete account of the fern and fern allies of the NSW south coast, covering all known native and naturalised taxa which occur in the region.

Dr. Kevin Mills has produced a comprehensive catalogue of the Polypodiophyta (Pteridophyte) flora of the New South Wales South Coast, yet at the same time has also produced an exemplary field guide. The layout for each taxon provides the reader with the required information necessary for a quick field identification, along with clear, detailed images of the habit and fertile fronds of each entity. Where applicable, synonymy is provided, which is particularly useful where there is debate on taxonomy. For each entity, there are distinguishing characters, occurrence status, etymology, and a distribution map based on Dr Mills extensive field experience as well as herbarium specimen-based data. This field guide will be an essential publication for all who are drawn in by the fern flora, from the experienced botanist to the amateur enthusiast, and not only for those on the south coast, as this publication will be a valuable reference for adjacent regions. 

The layout, while beautifully illustrated, is also succinct and consistent, providing the perfect level of detail required for a field guide. The introduction and early chapters provide the reader with detailed information on the South Coast environment, the varied habitats and fern distribution; an introduction to the biology of ferns; botanical nomenclature; a historical context which explores some early accounts of First Nation’s uses through to early European experiences. The information on fern weeds and environmental concerns is also very welcome.

From first picking this field guide up, it is clear to me that it will provide the reader with an easy-to-access account of the fern flora of the NSW South Coast, which I am certain will remain a significant and essential regional field guide for all those interested in these wonderful plants for many years to come.”

South Coast Ferns. A complete guide to the ferns and fern allies of the NSW South Coast. Book can be purchased online from envirobook.com.au.

Review courtesy of Andrew Orme, Technical Officer, Botanical Identification Service, National Herbarium of NSW, Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney