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Wildflowers of North America: A Guide to Field Identification

Wildflowers of North America: A Guide to Field Identification


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An identification guide with illustrations and descriptive information on over 1500 common species of wildflowers.

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Accurate color botanicals

Botanical drawings are extremely detailed, nearly to perfect scale, and in full color. Knowing how long one botanical piece requires, this artwork is a true labor of love for the illustrator(s). I defer to arguments left on the Peterson vs. Audubon bird guides on the usefulness of photographs vs. drawings for detail. That's preference. However, color is preferred over black and white drawings with a "color plate" or two to facilitate identification. The book is organized taxonomically, not by color. This makes identification challenging until skimmed a few times to get the gist. However, beginners will find the color illustrations cheerful and welcoming. In the end, learning the basic taxa will help them expand their knowledge beyond the book. The writing style and structure is not for the novice who wants to use it once on vacation then chuck it. Rather, the target seems to be for people who want to learn a little about the thing in their yard or down the block without going overboard. To keep it engaging, descriptions occasionally include folklore and make note of the invasives and toxic plants that are the most problematic. Could be improved with distribution maps instead of just descriptions of range, perhaps 2-3 species on each, to better visualize distribution by altitude and habitat.

A lot of info in a small package

Price and size are what makes this guide so great. It provides a good overview of the wildflowers of North America in a very portable format. The small size, however, means that the illustrations are not as large or detailed as we would prefer. It also limits the amount of specific information that can be included. We recently relocated to the Pacific Northwest and have found region-specific books (particularly from Lone Pine Publishers) to be superb. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, I recommend three books published by Hancock House, one of which is titled "Northwest Coastal Wildflowers." We use this color-coded guide far more than the Golden Field Guide simply because it is specific to our local ecosystem. We have identified every flower found using the Hancock guide. That said, I recommend this as a great resource at a very good price.

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