Friday, September 24, 2010

Tree books

In order to learn about trees, I have gotten nine tree books out of the library. My plan is to figure out which I like best, and then buy those. I don't want to have to carry around nine books every time I go to look at trees! Here are some comments about the books I've gotten from the library, as well as some books that I have not yet gotten.

Books structured by identification keys. These books take you through a decision tree: i.e. if tree has this feature, go to this page, if a different feature, go to a different page.
  • Arbor Day Foundation. What Tree is That? A Guide to the More Common Trees Found in North America.
    I have not seen this book yet, but it says it covers more than 250 kinds.
  • Symonds, George W., and Chelminski, Stephen V. Tree Identification Book: A New Method for the Practical Identification and Recognition of Trees.
    The way this book is arranged makes it easy to use for a beginner. However, I ended up not being able to find some of the trees I was trying to identify. I think it's good, but should probably be supplemented by a more comprehensive book. Lots of black and white pictures.
  • Watts, May T. Tree Finder: A Manual for the Identification of Trees by Their Leaves.
    This is the smallest book physically, and would fit in a large pocket, which makes it easy to take with you. Uses leaves only to identify trees. Includes about 150 trees.
  • Watts, May T. Winter Tree Finder: A Manual for Identifying Deciduous Trees in Winter (Eastern US).
    The winter counterpart of Tree Finder.
Books in which identification keys are secondary. These books do have identification keys, but they are just a few pages of a big book. Book is mainly pages of information about specific types of trees.

  • Grimm, William Carey. The Illustrated Book of Trees: The Comprehensive Field Guide to More than 450 Trees of Eastern North America.
    Includes line drawings.
  • Petrides, George A., and Peterson, Roger Tory. A Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs: Northeastern and North-Central United States and Southeastern and South-Central Canada.
    Covering 455 species, this book is more comprehensive than the other books in this category. However, I found it harder to use, especially for a beginner. In order to identify trees, you choose your path through the identification key by determining things like whether end buds are clustered, or whether leaves are feather-veined, and I don't always know things like that. Another thing that I didn't like was the way the pictures were separate from the text, so you had to keep flipping back and forth.
  • Sibley, David Allen. The Sibley Guide to Trees.
    In order by taxonomy. Includes more than 600 species. With color illustrations. Has a few paragraphs about each family, and then just the basics for each species.
Books which group trees. In these books, you leaf through the appropriate section in order to find the tree you want.
  • DeGraaf, Richard M., and Sendak, Paul E. Native and Naturalized Trees of New England and Adjacent Canada: A Field Guide.
    There are 14 sections, for example, "palmately compound." Each type of tree has about two pages which give details of things such as leaves, bark, habitat, etc. Has line drawings.
  • Farrar, John Laird. Trees of the Northern United States and Canada.
    Similar in structure to DeGraaf and Sendak book, in that trees are divided into 12 groups, and many species have two pages about them (non-native trees are given less space), telling about leaves, bark, habitat, etc. However, this book seems better because it includes more kinds of trees, and because it has color photos. I could see myself reading about a few trees each night before I go to bed, enjoying the beauty of the photographs.
Photo identification.
  • Little, Elbert L. National Audobon Society Field Guide to North American Trees: Eastern Region.
    Front section includes photos of green leaves, fall leaves, flowers, fruits, pods. Find the photo that matches what you are looking at, and then turn to the page number given for details about what kind of tree it is.

Books to read. Not so much for identification, but books you can read to learn more about trees.
  • Blouin, Glen. An Eclectic Guide to Trees East of the Rockies.
    Has several pages on each of 50 kinds of trees.First page for each tree gives the basic facts: leaf, flower, fruit, twig, bark, wood, heigh, diameter, longevity. Following pages tell interesting things, such as how used by humans throughout history and how used by wildlife. Includes color photos.
  • Fergus, Charles. Trees of New England: A Natural History.
  • Kricher, John C., Peterson, Roger Tory, and Morrison, Gordon. A Field Guide to Eastern Forests: North America.
  • Wells, Diana. Lives of the Trees: An Uncommon History.
    Tells about history and mythology of 100 kinds of trees.
  • Wessels, Tom. Reading the Forested Landscape: A Natural History of New England.

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