Our very own Marc’s favorite field guide! A fantastic primary source of identification of wildflowers in the eastern portion of the United States.
Okay, this is hands down Marc’s favorite wildflower guide. In fact, it is pretty much the only book he will refer to out in the field (a bad idea when foraging for edible and medicinal plants, by the way!)
Physically, this book has many strengths. With a maximum dimension of a little over seven inches and a relatively slim profile, it easily fits into a big pocket. It has a green vinyl, highly water resistant cover. If you look at the photo on the left, the white areas with the words and photographs is actually constitutes a removable dust cover. The binding is solid and ready for the field.
Thumbing through the book, the organization of the material becomes obvious. The first half of the approximately 900 pages consists of high-quality glossy photos (mostly two, sometimes three) per page. These are arranged first by flower color, and then by flower structure. Several of the photos have insets of either other photographs or schematics to help aid in identification, A few pages of introduction at the beginning clarifies the botanical terms used throughout the book.
Once a plant is identified based on picture matching, a notation within the caption of each photograph directs the reader to a page in the latter half of the field guide. The back half of the book has all of its plants divided into their respective botanical families. Each plant monograph states: a full botanical name; a common name; descriptions of the plants overall features, flowers, leaves, and fruit; height; flowering season; habitat; geographical presence (range); and relevant additional commentary. This is an incredibly dense, useful, well-organized, and highly informative collection.
My only gripe is that the introduction and latter half of the book is composed of ultra-thin paper. I am sure this is to help cut down in weight and thickness of the guide, as well as the cost of publication. Unfortunately, you can see the ink from the opposite side of each page reflecting through the nearly translucent paper. That said, our copy has certainly held up well through an amazing amount of abuse.
Some will criticize the color coding of the plant flowers as the basis of organization (as opposed to the type of plant structure used in Newcomb’s). While there is merit to this argument, preliminary identification by matching flower color and photos is particularly effective for beginners (and some of use not-so-beginners as well!)
The National Audubon Society’s Field Guide to Wildflowers is an excellent, on-site, foraging friend. It really is a must-have in our wildcrafting kit, and absolutely Marc’s go-to identification source. Along with this book (my personal favorite), Marc and I are able to identify nearly every flowering plant we encounter on our many rambles.
Check out our 2-part guide on Beginning Foraging !
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The Walking Herbalist has no affiliation of the authors or the publishers of this book at the time of the writing of this review. We purchased our own copy of this book for our own private use. This review is simply here to help our readers put together their own herbalism library, and other than possible commissions as an Amazon.com affiliate, we receive no compensation for this.