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Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees: Eastern Region Imitation Leather – May 12, 1980
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For the untrained observer, it can be quite a challenge to sort out the many trees that make up a stand of older forest in, say, New England or the Ozarks. This well-illustrated guidebook, covering 364 species, comes to the rescue with photographs organized in several ways: by, for example, the shape of the leaf or needle, by the fruit, by the flower or cone, and by autumn coloration. Following one visible characteristic or another, the reader can narrow the range of possibilities, then turn to an informative text that describes a tree's physical characteristics, habitat, and range. Many of the species covered are relatively rare, such as the "stinking cedar" of the Georgia-Florida border; others are locally abundant, such as the paper birch of the boreal forest, used to make ice-cream sticks; still others, such as the smooth sumac, are widespread. The guidebook also covers ornamentals introduced from other continents, such as the Chinese privet and Mahaleb cherry. --Gregory McNamee
From the Inside Flap
Tree peepers everywhere will enjoy these two guides which explore the incredible environment of our country's forests-including seasonal features, habitat, range, and lore. Nearly 700 species of trees are detailed in photographs of leaf shape, bark, flowers, fruit, and fall leaves -- all can be quickly accessed making this the ideal field guide for any time of year.
Note: the Eastern Edition generally covers states east of the Rocky Mountains, while the Western Edition covers the Rocky Mountain range and all the states to the west of it.
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As usual, I did as much research ahead of time as possible and ended up with three top choices. As I went through the reviews I found a reoccurring theme. The theme was that NO ONE FIELD GUIDE WILL MEET ALL YOUR NEEDS. Field guides are not textbooks and of necessity are not exhaustive because of size constraints. Each guide deals with this in its own fashion. Some are short on text and quality descriptions. Others are short on high quality pictures of leaf, bark, and general tree shape. Still others suffer from inadequate I.D. layout.
After considering all the variables the three that ended up on the top of the list were: National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American trees (Eastern Region) (NAS), Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Trees (PFG) and National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Trees of North America (NWF). I live in Indiana so all three fit my location. On the upside, of the three guides the NAS has the best, clearest, and most detailed plates (pictures) of leaves and bark. It is also the most compact size of the three books mentioned. It can be carried in a standard cargo pants pocket. For use as a visual aid it is excellent. Its weakness lies in its poor layout and lack of logical ID method. I would not recommend this book as a PRIMARY identification guide. Because of its poor layout I believe it fits more of a backup role. I can't say that I am disappointed with it because I purposely purchased it with the intent that it would supplement the other book(s) I planned on obtaining.
Out of the three books I purchased above I found the NWF to be the most useful and complete guide. I believe (IMHO) that it has the best combination and balance of all the areas I mentioned above. It is however the largest of the three and is not a pocket field guide by any stretch of the imagination. It is even a little heavy for my taste to take on an extended hike in a backpack.
If the PFG had better graphics and pictures I would have rated it at the top. It is an excellent resource, but I just could not get past the poor graphics and lack of realistic pictures that the other two books provide.