Friday, March 11, 2011

I see Sunshine! Time for the Field Guides!

I love field guides. I am still learning about identifying plants and trees (besides mushrooms, birds lol), that I customarily have my favorite field guides in my vehicle. Living in town I usually have to go out to the parks or a friends country property, to really get out in nature,so works for me just to store them there. The added bonus is more book space on the shelves inside the house:) I am sorry that I am unsure just how useful these specific books will be for all my friends, all over the world. But, for other friends, I hope these might be useful recommendations, especially if you are rather new to having a fascination with plant names, and want to find and use plants and trees from the wild places, like me:)

Botany in a Day, The Patterns Method of Plant Identification by Thomas J. Elpel, Herbal Field Guide to Plant Families of North America


His webpage is excellent also. I knew I was getting a bit more serious about learning when I got that book!

My newest finds made me do a happy dance! Winter Tree Finder for Identifying deciduous trees in Winter, by May Theilgaard Watts and Tom Watts.  And Tree Finder A Manual for the Identification of  Trees by Their Leaves, by May Theilgaard Watts. While these two books are aimed specifically for the Eastern two thirds of the U.S., I found that there was one specifically for the Pacific Coast of the U.S. also.  There are other areas covered in other editions also, so look around Amazon if you are interested:)


These little books are just amazing! The keys for using the pages are simple and methodical. You select a typical leaf  or twig from the tree you wish to identify and proceed in an orderly fashion to being able to key in on the tree you are wishing to identify.

These books are just must haves for portability, reasonable price and wealth of wonderful information. May Theilgaard Watts’ book Flower Finder was one of the first field guides I ever started using regularly, and still do.


Botany is not to be feared, and I think these books would be very beneficial with children also. I mean, the parts of a twig; terminal bud, lateral bud, leaf scar, lenticels, vein scar, bud scale scar and pith are really no harder to learn than something like the old ditty “Head, Shoulder, Knees and Toes”:) The keys in these books are very helpful, with little drawings to represent the usual habitat, the place of a tree in association with people, native or introduced symbols, shapes, etc etc which I find very helpful.


The Sibley Guide to Trees, another excellent book for identifying trees. I am sure most of you are probably familiar with Sibley’s Guide books! The other book in the picture Illinois, Iowa and Missouri Wild Berries and Fruits Field Guide by Teresa Marrone is just too much fun to take into the field and is color coded so a snap to thumb through if I encounter a berry or fruit tree I am unfamiliar with. Check out Amazon, again, if you are interested, as she has written similar type guides for various parts of the country.

Two other books I usually have in my vehicle, are Medicinal Plants of North America, by Jim Meuninck and Medicinal Plants and Herbs by Steven Foster and James A. Duke


Well, I have a few others I will talk about later. The sun is finally shining, the bees are flying, and nature is beckoning me out for a walk, so talk to you later!

By the way, always be mindful of your harvest practices. Sometimes we just have to be satisfied with looking :)

Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx



Indigenous Shamanic Winds said...

Oh, I was doing the Happy Dance the other day as well when I had just ordered that book, Botany In A Day -- as well as some other first Herb books for my collection as a Beginning Herbalist on her Path! I hope you enjoy the Plant Identifications, I'm slowly working with them myself -- and my first one I had done last year out in our yard, I thought a weed was Blessed Thistle, and it turned out being Chickory, LOL! So this book, and website as well, will help out a LOT in future endeavors!

Photo of my 3 Tresured Herb Books:

Have fun!
~SW )O(

Comfrey Cottages said...

Oh SW I thoroughly understand about mixing up plants! That is why I got started with the more detailed botanical type guides. I am just a beginner too, so really happy for you to be starting your herbal path also:)the link didn't work for me:( Maybe share it on your blog sometime? Or repost it for me here, in case for some reason it got cut off? You have fun too xx

karisma said...

I do think I need some books like these. I have spent the past six weeks or so "scanning" everything, everywhere we go. I think I am driving my man nuts with my observations and head hanging out the window of the car. My main focus has been trying to locate a Eucalyptus tree of the right family! LOL They are everywhere but we cannot just use any old tree now. :-) On my last jaunt up the bush, the kids were horrified when I started tasting the leaves of different species.haha.

I am an absolute lover of books and have a very long list that I am wanting to buy at the moment. Our library does not have a very good botanical or herbal section. :-(

Comfrey Cottages said...

Oh Karisma, our library is lacking in those books also. I have collected these over time and I am like you with always more in the queue! LOL People laugh at me or look horrified when I am tasting plants also. :) I hope you find the tree you are looking for soon! Let me know when you do please. xx

Anonymous said...

Those tree guides look brilliant, I wish they did some for the UK. I really enjoy identifying trees in winter, it's like getting to know part of their deepest essence.
I'll have to scout around and see if i can find a winter tree guide for here.
Looking forward to hearing the results of your foraging soon!

Mom's Sewing Vault said...

I've had Botany in a Day on my wishlist for a while, but I had never seen those smaller books before. How wonderful! I grew up in the tropics, so even at 40, I'm still learning trees, birds, plants, etc. Thanks for the recommendations!

Comfrey Cottages said...

Sally, those little books are just wonderful. I can't even begin to describe how easy they make identification of trees:) Can you request Botany in a Day from the library, maybe? See if you like it, I do! xx wow, the tropics sound good right now!!

latisha said...

i need more field guides!

Rita M said...

Beautiful books Leslie!
I have one small field guide, and it is very useful when we need to recognize plants.

Have a nice day Leslie :)

Bridget Watts said...

Leslie, I'm so glad you enjoy our books. (Winter Tree Finder and etc.) Your other field guide suggestions are good, too.

If people are interested, they can buy the Finders books from us (my name above links to our web site), Amazon, or at many park visitor centers in the U.S. (I just sent a bunch of Redwood Region Flower Finder and Pacific Coast Tree Finder off to Muir Woods in California).

Whisperingearth - We don't publish field guides for the UK. But your remark reminded me that there is a key to "Trees of Europe" at the back of May Theilgaard Watts' book Reading the Landscape of Europe. Not exactly convenient to stick in your pocket, though . . .