|Journal||Flora Malesiana Bulletin|
|Abstract||Selected papers by R.C. Ching. 1988. x + 366 pp., 2 portraits, 21 fig, 21 tab. Academic Press, Beijing. 60 Yüan (hardcover).|
Studies on the fern flora of China, one of the richest in the world, by local workers began with the work of R.C. Ching (1898-1986), whose school of former students and collaborators is now rapidly expanding his pioneer work all over mainland China. During his long life Ching published over 150 papers, most of them on pteridophytes, some in collaboration with other workers. In many cases, as we now know, an understanding of the taxonomy of the Chinese representatives is crucial for an understanding of the taxonomy of an entire genus, or even family, of ferns. Thus, it is hardly surprising that many of Ching’s papers had a much wider scope and influence than just in clearing up the taxonomy of Chinese fern taxa. The complete methodological innovation of fern taxonomy, where the sorus and related structures are no longer regarded as decisive for the taxonomic placement of a genus or species, but where the structure of the entire plant is taken into account, owes much to Ching’s work. His fundamental paper ‘On natural classification of the family Polypodiaceae’ (Sunyatsenia 5, 1940, 201-268) is one of the 11 papers selected for reprinting in the present volume. Pteridologists would perhaps have wished to see more papers reprinted, especially such as are not readily available outside China. Further important publications to be found here are ‘A revision of the Chinese and Sikkim-Himalayan Dryopteris with a reference to some species from neighbouring countries’ (1938), ‘A reclassification of the family Thelypteridaceae from mainland China’ (1963), ‘The Chinese fern families and genera: systematic arrangement and historical origin’ (1978), and others. With few exceptions the papers, or parts of them, are in English. The reprinting is verbatim, but not in facsimile; the text has been reset (at least in most cases), and the pagination is new. Caution is therefore indicated when one wishes to use this edition for bibliographic purposes.
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