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Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast: A Natural History by [Gracie, Carol]

Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast: A Natural History [Print Replica] Kindle Edition

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Editorial Reviews


Honorable Mention for the 2012 National Outdoor Book Awards, Nature & Environment Category

"If you receive this book in the dead of winter, it will stir your mind and warm your heart. And, I'm sure, you will hurry outdoors at the first breath of warm weather to view for yourself the delicate wonders of the springtime blooms so eloquently chronicled in every entry. . . . Brilliantly rendered photographs grace every page, making this an ideal present to admire with the family at holiday time and to return to every time spring knocks on your door."--Larry Marschall, Natural History

"The plant profiles Carol writes are more than a string of facts about a plant's morphological parts and its dry taxonomic history. Each profile is a history lesson sprinkled with interesting insights into how plants work. . . . This book is recommended for teachers, naturalists and all plant enthusiasts in the northeastern US, armchair naturalists everywhere, and anyone striving to write interesting, easy-to-read plant profiles for a general audience."--ArtPlantae Today

"This book does a fine job combining the science, history, and poetic beauty of these wildflowers."--Empress of Dirt blog

"I can't imagine a wildflower enthusiast or naturalist not wanting to own and devour this book. It's crammed with fascinating information you'll share with companions on nature walks, at the dinner table, and at cocktail parties. To top it off, the volume is graced by color photographs, some chiefly practical, others just plain gorgeous. All abet the author's cause: to bring us intimate, science-based knowledge of the wild, sometimes weird world of wildflowers."--Ed Kanze, Record-Review (Bedford, NY)

"A wonderful resource. In addition to providing more than 500 photographs illustrating the plants and concepts discussed in the text, this book also explores the lore and cultural uses of more than 35 species of spring-flowering natives. Author Gracie is a naturalist, photographer, and writer who was for many years an educator and tour leader with the New York Botanical Garden. Let her take you on a literary and photographic tour of our region's spring wildflowers, then go out in the woods and fields to enjoy them in wild!"--Susan Littlefield, National Gardening Association newsletter

"There is quite simply a wealth of information here; everything you ever wanted to know about wildflowers but maybe didn't know how or who to ask. . . . This is a book that deserves a place on the bookshelf of anyone who wants to know more about these wonderful plants."--Gardening with Nature blog

"Interested in digging deeper into wildflowers? This is the book for you. Carol Gracie's Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast: A Natural History reads like a college text with some of the yummiest photos I've seen in a long time."--Marie Iannotti, Gardening

"This engaging book is a great way to become acquainted with the secret lives of colorful flowers that thrive without a gardener's care. Their common names are as unforgettable as they are descriptive. Meet Jack-in-the-pulpit, Blue-eyed Mary, lady's slippers, Dutchman's breeches and more in this loving appreciation of their considerable charms."--Valerie Sudol, Newark Star-Ledger

"If you're an insufferable nature nerd, like me, you will love this book. . . . It's more than a guide to the beauties of spring. It is a beautiful, hardcover natural history lesson."--Justine Weber, Nemesis Bird blog

"In the comprehensive, well-written and lavishly illustrated book, you'll encounter wildflowers you may already know and love . . . as well as ones you'd be delighted to meet."--Bill Cary, Journal News

"[A] very readable text that is lavishly accompanied by Carol's photographs. It's a pretty book as well, from the velvety black cover to the color coordinated text panels, and the clean, crisply designed pages. Carol has tried to avoid overly scientific jargon, but the technical terms are there when necessary. The blend should appeal to a wide audience. . . . [T]his a very special, enjoyable and informative book."--Robin A. Jess, Botanical Artist

"Anyone with even the most casual interest in plants will be drawn to this book by the beauty, quality, and quantity of the author's photographs. As for the text, Gracie, a writer, naturalist, and educator, has wisely chosen depth rather than breadth by providing life history details of 35 signature wildflowers of northeastern North America. There is scholarly substance in her treatments, but the prose is easy to read and is without off-putting citations in the text. Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast is really a model of how to take the next step beyond merely learning to identify plants from a field guide to understanding how they function in their forested ecosystems--the parts they play in the intricate web of life. This reviewer also appreciated learning about how the plants got their names, and the whys and wherefores of recent name changes."--Choice

"What a welcome addition to wildflower literature! This is the ideal book for readers of all levels of expertise, from the professional botanist to the armchair naturalist. . . . I salute this gifted plantswoman for focusing on the beauty and intricacies of northeastern wildflowers, adding a valuable contribution to our knowledge of the flora of the United States."--Jane Austin Bruckner, Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas

"The inner front dust cover flap calls this a 'book unlike any other,' and that is certainly true. This is an exquisite collection of essays on over 30 species of spring wildflowers indigenous to the northeastern United States and Canada. The author, an accomplished botanist and author, has poured her enthusiasm and passion for wildflowers into this marvelous volume."--Robert J. Krueger, Economic Botany

"Carol Gracie's book will find a place not only on the coffee table, but also as supplemental reading in such courses as field botany, plant taxonomy and Northeastern natural history. High School librarians will find this a wonderful way to introduce real-world botany back into the consciousness of a biology curriculum now practically devoid of biological interest. Spring Wildflowers is a delight to the eye and the mind. At the price, it is a 'steal' and should be acquired by all naturalists in the region."--Andrew M. Greller, Ph.D, Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society

"It would be a pity if the titular 'Northeast' causes persons from other areas, including Canada, to overlook this distinctive book that is such a fascinating browse and read. Thanks, Carol Gracie, for reviving my memories of grad-student years at Ann Arbor with your splendid work describing skunk cabbage, that harbinger of spring, as well as other beauties of the season."--Rudolf Schmid, TAXON

"This new guidebook from an expert botanist and accomplished photographer is a rare hybrid, offering a wealth of scientific information in a way that is accessible. . . . Each section includes conventional wildflower portraits, but it is the closeups that are the most fascinating. Tepals, sepals, stamens, spathes (and many more terms usually relegated to inscrutable botany tomes) come alive, becoming understandable parts of the inner workings of plants."--Better Homes and Gardens, Country Gardens

"Hundreds of photographs illuminate this book, making it a keeper for any enthusiast of wild plants."--Jodi DeLong, Chronicle Herald

"This is not your usual field guide, but a detailed and intimate exploration of the natural history of the spring flowering plants we are most familiar with. . . . Highly recommended."--Thomas Brock, Prairie Promoter

"In the Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast, Carol Gracie lets us experience spring any time of the year."--Maryann Whitman, Wild Ones Journal

"Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast combines facts and trivia with luscious photographs depicting some of the region's showiest and most interesting spring-blooming native or naturalized wildflowers. Naturalist and photographer Carol Gracie's conversational style makes this field guide not only useful but also an entertaining read as it describes these plants' features, habit, history, uses, and ecosystem associations."--Caroline Bristol, American Gardner

"The book is very cozy to read and Gracie presents complex subjects such as molecular systematics in a very understandable, conversational manner. Over all, it provides the reader with an intimate look at the fascinating and complex life histories of these plants and goes way beyond just appreciating a spring wild flower for its pretty face. I hope to see Gracie write additional books that will provide such great insight into other groups of plants found in this region."--Sasha W. Eisenman, Bartonia

"What sets this book apart from others is the breadth and depth of information. . . . The beauty of the photos may tempt you to leave the book out as a coffee table book; it may also convert you into a wildflower enthusiast."--Edna Troiano, Washington Gardener

"Gracie . . . has created the 'go to' book for understanding the dynamics of these spring-time 'wonders.'"--Gail Hamsher, The Real Dirt

From the Back Cover

"This is a wonderful collection of essays on some of our favorite early spring wildflowers, taking readers way beyond the typical coverage of identity, general habitat, and range. Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast is an excellent, unique, and exceptionally well-illustrated book, a wonderful addition to our literature on wildflowers."--Garrett E. Crow, professor emeritus, University of New Hampshire

Product Details

  • File Size: 40978 KB
  • Print Length: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (March 12, 2012)
  • Publication Date: March 12, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007BOKE5E
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,676,361 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Carol Gracie's book is a joy to read, each chapter telling the engrossing story of a flower (or two) and its related species, an ideal botanical book. She covers everything from the latest science to cultural history to personal observations. The thoroughness of her research is rare and has given us a book that we have only dreamed of. Highlights covered include pollination, growth patterns, name derivations, the science behind name changes, medicinal and other uses, interconnections with other plant and animal species, historical associations, horticultural uses, and much more. She has brilliantly illustrated the significant characteristics with gorgeous photographs, the close-ups especially stunning, revealing the beauty and remarkable inner structure of flowers.

I highly recommend this book to anyone with any interest in flowers and the natural world. Even the flowers one might not be familiar with are fascinating for Gracie's wonderful stories, information, and insights into the plant world.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a life-long gardener who has taken many classes including ones at Longwood Gardens and Mt. Cuba Center for Horticulture I found this book to be a wonderful addition to my library. It is clearly a labor of love and I learned a lot of things about these wonderful plants that is not often or ever taught in classes. Stunning photos that capture the details touched upon during the authors writing.
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Format: Hardcover
Field botanists will remember Carol Gracie's name as the co-author with Steven Clemants (deceased) of the best-selling field guide to Northeastern wildflowers, "Flowers in the Field and Forest." This new work expands upon the knowledge gained of plant identification of that flora by examining all aspects of the natural history of more than 35 species. These are surely among the most attractive blooms in our section of the Eastern Deciduous Forest, itself world-famous for spring wildflowers and autumn leaf color. Carol, a friend and colleague, provides 500 spectacular color photos, which she gathered while travelling 27,000 miles throughout the region. Carol also provides an account of the life history of each plant, its lore, cultural uses, and the latest scientific information. This book therefore is a primary contribution to the literature of our flora, including some never-before published accounts of pollination ecology. The book will be purchased not only for the stunning photographs, which reveal unsuspected aspects of flower symmetry and color pattern, but also for the bibliographical references section that provides access to the literature. Taken at random, references to wild ginger range from "The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition" (1806) to a popular treatment as "Plant of the Year" (2010). Included is a reference to "Aristolochic acid neuropathy: a worldwide (kidney) problem" in a medical journal. I count all this as solid scholarship. But it is the natural history that forms the heart of the text, an encyclopedic review of each of the flowers in history, in the kitchen, in art and literature, Native American and Colonial lore and popular culture. Because I have three species of violets growing in my front yard (no thanks to any effort on my part!Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Carol Gracie has published a unique book for wildflower enthusiasts. There are many field guides, but they give you only the barest of information, on each specimen, as they are designed for carrying with you when you go looking for these treasures. This book is a different kind of treasure: a leisurely exploration of each flower...there are 9 pages alone on the Spring trout lily! No other wildflower book does this! Fellow botanists, serious collectors, or ocassional readers will love this book for it's gorgeous photographs, details about the plants actual life cycle, and stories about their names and histories.
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Format: Hardcover
What a fantastic book! I've been a professional naturalist for over a decade and I learn something new with each paragraph I read. The photos are beautiful, the writing is absorbing, and the dedication of the author is obvious. Reading this book each spring will become as much of a ritual for me as listening to bird call CDs before the warblers arrive.
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Format: Hardcover
Princeton's website gives a somewhat fuller description of the book than appears on Amazon; this section captures the essence for me: "Featuring more than 500 full-color photos in a stunning large-sized format, the book delves deep into the life histories, lore, and cultural uses of more than 35 plant species. The rich narrative covers topics such as the naming of wildflowers; the reasons for taxonomic changes; pollination of flowers and dispersal of seeds; uses by Native Americans; related species in other parts of the world; herbivores, plant pathogens, and pests; medicinal uses; and wildflower references in history, literature, and art. The photos capture the beauty of these plants and also illustrate the concepts discussed in the text."

I purchased my copy in a ebook format directly from Princeton, and it reads beautifully on my iPhone, using the Kindle app. It's great fun to read a hard copy, of course, particularly in the winter when one can only dream of hiking and seeing many flowers in bloom.

But on the trail, when you see a bit of yellow and find an exquisite little flower popping up out of the leafy mold, an even greater joy to pull out your phone and read a scientific and well written description.

This book is an absolute triumph and essential for hikers in the Northeast who have any interest in the flora of their surroundings.

Robert C. Ross
March 2012
revised January 2015
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