For a number of reasons, more fully developed in the following essay (p. xv, seq.), the Editors of Chronica Botanica felt that an account concerning the vegetation and natural resources, as well as the present status and future of a number of branches of the plant sciences in Latin America, would be the most appropriate contribution they could make at present to the improvement of international relations and coöperation in the plant sciences, a field which presents in Latin America many problems of a great, often truly international, importance.
The aim of this collection of articles which we started in 1941 inChronica Botanica was to give the agronomist, botanist, forester and phytopathologist (whether he be located in the Americas or in Europe) information which he may need when starting work on the wild or cultivated plants of Latin America. It was hoped that it might be still more useful for those who plan to go to Latin America to collect or to conduct research. The collection endeavoured to give some information concerning the present status of and the future possibilities and needs for research in the chief branches of the pure and applied plant sciences. In addition to data in his own field, the specialist will find much useful and stimulating information on vegetational and agronomic problems in general, on the organization of research, lists of books that he may consult, addresses of institutions and societies in the territory in which he is interested and which he may profitably contact, etc.
We succeeded in obtaining so much material for our collection of articles that we soon had much more than could find a place in Chronica Botanica. At the suggestion of several correspondents we then decided to bring together all articles on this subject, those published in Chronica Botanica, those not yet published, and many additional ones, in one volume, which we are presenting herewith.
PART 1 (pp. 1-260) consists primarily of articles not previously published. Only a few of the articles in this part have already appeared in the Chronica (but these have been revised by the authors in the meantime).
PART 2 (pp. 261-349) consists, with a few exceptions, of reprints (mostly somewhat revised) of articles already published in the columns of Chronica Botanica.
Like most volumes prepared under war-time conditions, this book is not complete and its various chapters are often somewhat unequal in concept. Some contain remarks, general considerations, and historical and bibliographical information which are missing in other chapters. One should remember that most of the chapters of this volume were originally planned as short articles for a periodical, rather than as chapters of a coöperative manual. Many of the authors who kindly contributed are engaged in special war projects, often in the field and far from library resources. The authors of certain chapters, shorter and less documented than others, should not be held in any way responsible for this relative conciseness. Had they not helped us, our volume would be much less complete and still less informative. In several cases I have not been able to obtain coöperation until I had elaborated in some detail along the lines of NECKER'S words: "Il ne faut pas que la crainte d'un défaut d'exactitude inévitable empéche de présenter un travail qui peut d'ailleurs être utile."
For a few chapters only I have not been able to obtain suitable help at all. I must confess with regret that I have not been successful in arranging . . .