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Wildflowers of Mississippi Paperback – March 21, 2007
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From the Publisher
This classic Mississippi guidebook, now back in print
---Updates the scientific names that have changed
---Features over five hundred beautiful color photographs of wildflowers
---Features detailed descriptions for each flower species
---Includes useful introduction and appendix on how to identify flower characteristics
From the Inside Flap
Available again, a classic guidebook to the many types of wildflowers in Mississippi
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It has lovely color photographs, and some good info. I particularly like how the different physiographic regions of Mississippi are described. Also each plant comes with a description of the plant growth pattern, leaves, flowers, fruits, flowering dates, habitat, distribution in MS, and sometimes additional comments, such as how the plant has been used historically. There is also an appendix that covers various botanical structures. (Along these lines, I recommend a book called 'Plant Identification Terminology' by James Harris and Melinda Woolf Harris.)
Now for the cons. The book's biggest weakness is the organization. It's not so great for a field guide.
Plants are listed alphabetically, first by family, then by genus, then species. If you're trying to identify a flower, and you have no idea of its scientific classification, then your only recourse is to flip through the book one page at a time looking for a match (probably by picture). Granted, it doesn't take all that long. I've flipped through this book one page at a time many times. And, as your knowledge grows, you will probably learn the characteristics of the major families of flowering plants. So, you'll be able to narrow down the possibilities. However, I think the book would have been MUCH more useful as a field guide had the author organized it according to observable characteristics. For example, the book 'Wildflowers of Washington' by C.P. Lyons, is organized by color, flower type, and number of petals. These are things that anybody can readily observe.
I also wish the author had included a scale in the photographs. That might sound like nitpicking, but it really does help to know how big flowers in a photograph are when you're trying to figure out if that's what you've got.
Finally, there are a number of instances where the photograph really zoomed on the flower, and where it would have been more useful if it had been taken a bit further back. The photograph of Wood Sorrell is a good example. The leaves of Wood Sorrell are one of its most distinctive characteristics. There are lots of plants with small, yellow flowers, but not so many whose leaves look like Wood Sorrell. I had to find the plant online to make the id.
The book isn't entirely comprehensive in it's coverage. Butterweed (Packera glabella), for example, is quite common in Mississippi, and is native according to the USDA, but it isn't covered in the book. But, no book can be entirely comprehensive, and ranges change in any case. Nature doesn't sit still!
Overall, I think the book is a good addition to nature books available on Mississippi. But, because of the organization, you will have to work harder than you might otherwise have to if you actually try to make id's. And, you will probably have to consult other sources as well. The USDA has a good site.