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Tree Finder: A Manual for Identification of Trees by their Leaves (Eastern US) (Nature Study Guides) Paperback – January 1, 1991

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Tree Finder: A Manual for Identification of Trees by their Leaves (Eastern US) (Nature Study Guides) + Winter Tree Finder: A Manual for Identifying Deciduous Trees in Winter (Eastern US) (Nature Study Guides) + Flower Finder: A Guide to the Identification of Spring Wild Flowers and Flower Families East of the Rockies and North of the Smokies, Exclusive of Trees and Shrubs (Nature Study Guides)
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

To identify deciduous trees (trees that drop their leaves in the fall) east of the Rockies in winter, use Winter Tree Finder.

This book is one of the "Finders" series of pockets guides to native plants and animals of North America, which includes similar tree keys for the West: Pacific Coast Tree Finder, Rocky Mountain Tree Finder, and Desert Tree Finder.

About the Author

May Theilgaard Watts was well known as a naturalist, teacher, writer, and conservationist in her native Midwest and beyond, through her lectures, classes, books, and newspaper column. She was the first to introduce a broad readership to concepts from ecology.

In her books Reading the Landscape of America and Reading the Landscape of Europe, Watts pioneered the idea of studying natural history at the landscape level, considering the biological and cultural forces that have shaped the world around us. Her books are considered classics in landscape interpretation and field ecology.

Watts created the first Finders keys as mimeographed handouts for her students at the Morton Arboretum in Illinois. She adapted the dichotomous keys used by botanists, creating highly illustrated keys that amateur naturalists would find fun and easy to use.

May Theilgaard Watts led the movement to create the Illinois Prairie Path, the first major rails-to-trials conversion in the United States. She received the Margaret Douglas Medal for Conservation Education from National Garden Club of America, the Arthur Hoyt Scott award in Gardening and Horticulture, and was honored by the Dept. of the Interior and the Audubon Society for her conservation work.

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Product Details

  • Series: Nature Study Guides
  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Nature Study Guild Publishers; English Language edition (January 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0912550015
  • ISBN-13: 978-0912550015
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5.8 x 4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

May Theilgaard Watts was a poet, artist, gardener, and above all, a teacher. She is best known for her book Reading the Landscape: An Adventure in Ecology (later published in an expanded edition as Reading the Landscape of America,) and as founder of the Illinois Prairie Path.

May was born to Danish parents in Chicago, on May 1, 1893. Her first teaching job was in a one-room schoolhouse. At the start of the school year, she would take a train out to a rural school district, where she lived with a farmer's family. During the summers, she came home to her parents' house in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago, and attended the University of Chicago. There, she took classes from the pioneering American ecologist, Henry C. Cowles, whose work she would popularize in her books.

After graduating from college, May she taught at a Chicago-area high school until her marriage in 1924 to Raymond Watts. While raising her family, she spoke and wrote widely about native plants and landscapes. From 1941 until her retirement, Watts worked as staff naturalist at the Morton Arboretum, west of Chicago, where she created the Arboretum's innovative education program.

May and her husband, Raymond Watts, started the publishing imprint Nature Study Guild Publishers to publish her pocket guides Tree Finder and Flower Finder.

In 1963, at the age of 70, she instigated the movement to convert an abandoned railroad right-of-way into the Illinois Prairie Path. May died in her home in Naperville, Illinois, in 1975, with a piece of unfinished writing waiting for her in her typewriter.

When Reading the Landscape was first published, in 1957, its jacket included a quote from the naturalist Edwin Way Teale: "Mrs. Watts has a valuable and original idea in considering the whole ecological interrelationship represented by each different landscape in turn." Her publisher appended a definition of the word "ecology," evidently not expecting readers to be familiar with the word.

Ecology is no longer an arcane term, in part because of May Theilgaard Watts' work, through her books, lectures, and field trips, to interest non-scientists in nature and its interrelationships.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

83 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Roberta V. Russo VINE VOICE on June 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
I took a class about tree identification several years ago at Morton's Arboretum near Chicago and this book was used as part of the class. I really love this little book. I have several of the fancier (and more expensive) books with color plates and photos, but for identifying trees this one is the best. Based on the tree's leaves it very clearly walks you through the identifation process step by step.
If you want to read more about the tree once you have identified it, the other guides are great. But for purposes of tree identification, this is the best I have seen.
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 5, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is about the best I've seen. It is compact for carrying with you and easy to use. It is a logical key that you can follow from the tree down to its identification by its leaves. It covers the eastern US so there is not a lot of extraneous material to wade through. I have been looking for exactly this kind of book since I started being interested in trees.I recommend it very highly especially to the beginner.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
A great little book to take along on a walk in the woods. The easy step-by-step key really helps you identify trees, and it's fun to use.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A VINE VOICE on October 6, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is the easiest tree finder book out there. Not only are the pictures very clear, but the questions that allow you to narrow down the tree type are very clear. This book is also small, so it's easy to bring with you when hiking so you can just whip it out when you see an interesting tree. This is the book that led to my profound curiosity and love of trees. Too bad I lent my copy to someone who took it back with her to Korea!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Darren Fox on August 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
I too took a tree identification class at a state park some years ago and this was the official guide book. It's easy to use, laid out well and has many varieties of trees in it. With practice, you can get to the point where you know what they look like by sight without having to resort to the book.

If you're a novice, get this book. It's inexpensive and offers you a great deal!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Kim on April 6, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My 7 yr old loves to look through this book while we go on nature hikes...yes in NJ! As a prior reviewer stated there are no illustrations of the whole tree - just the leaves. For my child's age and curiosity it works very well.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Bill Vannerson on May 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have a "Master Tree Finder" booklet copyrighted in 1963 that I use to teach Boy Scouts how to identify trees. It was passed down to me from my mom. I was delighted to hear that the bok is still available and that there are other titles in the series. The dichotomus key is the most effective tool for making identifications. I also believe in teaching the boys how to use the book (and other guides) to identify plants and animals instead of just memorizing from rote. The names of those trees will eventualy fade. But the skills to identify a tree with a good guide will last a lifetime.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By SmittyInPhilly on November 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
I use this book to teach trees to people of all ages. I carry it with me on all camping trips plus a copy in my truck. The best part about it is to find a specific tree, say one of 6 different type of maples within just a couple pages. It helps teach the basics of how they classify the trees, also. Great book.
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