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Handbook of Northwestern Plants Revised Edition Paperback – May 1, 2001
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I found this book useful, but those considering should realize it is fairly technical -- at least by my standards. I was expecting a simple book where each page had a picture, list of common characteristics, general areas of growth, level of poisonous, and edibility.
The book does have some useful sketches, but it is very heavy on the technical descriptions of various plants. The book is organized by plant families (which I knew nothing about until I researched so I could use this book). So if you don't know what family a plant belongs to by look this book will not help you very much. The front does have many sketches showing what types of leaves, flowers, stamens, and inflorescence look like so that you can have a baseline for your judgement of various plants.
All in all, this book is a great guide for the areas it covers; as another reviewer mentioned it is not really great for the ENTIRE pacific northwest. It does require the reader to have some technical knowledge of plant types to be useful. If I wasn't looking for something requiring so much knowledge then I would recommend another book (with more pictures!), but otherwise this book is very useful.
It's based around dichotomous keys, as all serious taxonomic handbooks do. It also uses line drawings and not color pictures (again, like taxonomic handbooks). Its biggest minus is that it actually has *fewer* such illustrations than a serious handbook does (which is why I give it four stars and not five). Overall, it's far simpler to use than a serious taxonomic handbook; it covers a limited area, and the rarest species have been dropped as well (grasses and grass-like plants such as sedges have also been omitted).
It's an excellent book if you goal is to familiarize yourself with botanical terms and using keys to identify species. You don't need to be a college graduate to use it. Yes, it uses technical terms. It also has a glossary, so if you run into a strange word, you can look it up. It has pretty much every non-grass-like vascular plant you're likely to find in in its area of coverage. It's *much* easier to use than Hitchcock and Cronquist's *Flora of the Pacific Northwest*.
Due to the limited number of illustrations, I'd recommend purchasing Pojar and Mackinnon's *Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast* as a companion volume. If you're not interested in learning botanical terminology or using keys, then Pojar and Mackinnion itself is a good guide to the plants you'll see west of the Cascades.