Top positive review
82 people found this helpful
VERY complete & well-organized for a compact guide
on September 24, 2008
This is more a concise small-format encylopedia of North American trees than a field guide. It's amazingly comprehensive, containing information on native species and a lot of cultivated imports. For a single taxon, photographs of leaves (on a white background, for clarity), bark, flowers, and fruit, along with the text, are arranged on a single page so there's no jumping around. Line art is used only to help define terms or help navigating the keys. The text contains a major identification tip to look for in each species.
As a field guide I think the identification keys are its weakest point. They start, as all lay-oriented keys, with leaf arrangement and shape, and then quickly move to flower and fruit characters. For most of the year you don't have flowers and fruits, so I wish the keys concentrated more on leaf details (margins, venation, size). Experienced enthusiasts will spend more time in the index than the keys; the inexperienced will probably spend a lot of time paging through, looking at the excellent pictures, for a pattern match. Because the guide is so comprehensive, though, there are a LOT of pictures to page through. It's printed on thick, durable paper, though this makes it rather big and heavy for the pocket.
An ideal combination might by this guide paired with May T. Watts' "Tree Finder: A Manual for the Identification of Trees by Their Leaves," only $4.00 from Amazon & truly vest pocket-sized. It has excellent keys for the layperson who lives east of the Rockies.
The Amazon price for the NWF guide makes it a steal. You won't find this much information about trees in one small volume anywhere else.
I give it 5 stars for the information & 4 as an identification guide.