Contents: Foreword. Preface. I. General introduction to gymnosperms: 1. Introduction. 2. Origin and evolution of seeds and cupules. 3. Classification. II. Cycas: 4. Distribution and diversity. 5. External morphology of vegetative parts. 6. Vegetative anatomy. 7. Reproduction and life cycle. 8. Economic importance and toxicity of chemical constituents. III. Cycadales: 9. Diversity, distribution and interrelationships. 10. Vegetative characters. 11. Reproduction and life cycles. 12. Hybrids, economic uses and toxicity. 13. Karyology and cytotaxonomy. 14. Fossil history and phylogeny. 15. Ecology. 16. Conservation. 17. Propagation and cultivation. 18. Chemistry of the cycadales/Roy Osborne. Bibliography. Subject index.
"The book is a scholarly presentation of an introduction to the gymnosperms with a monographic account of one of its groups the Cycadales in general and Cycas in particular. The gymnosperms are an ancient group of plants which ruled the plant kingdom from Upper Carboniferous to the end of the Cenomanian for nearly 230 million years. By the end of Middle Cretaceous, the rapidly increasing angiosperms relegated gymnosperms to a secondary position. Unlike present day flowering plants, seeds of gymnosperms remained naked and attached to more or less modified leaves exhibiting an archaic character as encountered in the fossil remains of the now completely extinct seed ferns or pteridosperms.
The genus Cycas is a lonely, lingering remnant of a bygone age and a real living fossil. The origin and evolution of seeds and other most distinctive advances made by the gymnosperms over the pteridophytes are dealt in the monograph. The book also provides an up to date account of various classifications of the gymnosperms. For all those especially interested in the diverse aspects of Cycas and Cycadales, the monograph presents a wealth of authoritative details. It is an attractive and comprehensively compiled volume for an all round survey of the knowledge of cycads and is scientifically well illustrated with line drawings, colour and black/white photoplates."