The organization of Essential Oil Crops is straightforward: an initial chapter on the world market for essential oils and a final chapter on methods of oil production; book-end chapters on oils from the Annonaceae, Geraniaceae, Graminae, Lamiaceae, Lauraceae, Myristicaceae, Myrtaceae, Oleaceae, Piperaceae, Rosaceae, Rutaceae, Santalaceae, and Zingiberaceae. There is also a good glossary.
Information on plant production is clearly related back to the discussion of oil production. For each essential oil, a brief introduction including a well-written history is given, followed by reviews of the botany and ecology of the species and relevant agronomic information. This information includes preferred soils, fertilization schemes, cultivation methods, harvest, distillation, and pests and diseases for each associated oil crop. In each case, this is followed by a detailed discussion of the various physical, chemical, and flavor/olfactory qualities of the oil.
Unfortunately, the general title of the book, Essential Oil Crops, implies that the book will discuss all major essential oil groups. However, the author says on p. viii in the "Introduction" that "The crops selected are those the author believes should be encouraged in countries where cash crops are limited, or outside inputs to raise rural income difficult to obtain. For this reason the important pine oils have not been included, since these are frequently produced in more developed countries. It is emphasized that this book is basically concerned with growing essential oil plants to obtain an aromatic derivative, and not with essential oils per se." On p. x he adds "Governments in producer countries should also support their growers by taking advantage of the world consumer demand for natural products to expand their markets, and in so doing add emphasis to the advantages of 'Trade Not Aid!"' Though this rationale is plausible, even admirable, for $135 the book should include a hint of this rationale in the title-e.g. "Essential Oil Crops for Developing Economies." Another difficulty involves the bibliography ' Though it is extensive and sure to be very useful, the most recent papers cited are from 1995, and those are few in number.
As such, though it is otherwise a very clearly written book, full of important and well-organized information, the audience is limited. Large libraries and those in the fields of plant biochemistry, plant secondary metabolism, or essential oils might find it useful, particularly those working in less developed nations. - Douglas Darnowski, Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana IL 61801