North American Wildland Plants: A Field Guide; Volumes I & II
James Stubbendieck, Stephan L. Hatch, and L.M. Landholt
This is without a doubt one of the most encompassing books I have seen on North American plant life. Now, granted it certainly does not encompass all plants, but it is one of the best that I have come across so far and I am beyond elated that it was available at my local library.
Not only does the book give you a break down of how plants are classified and lists the specific method used for the book, it also lists the botanical and scientific names for all plants contained right in the first few pages (and again on the individual plant’s section).
The detailed nature of this book is truly astonishing. I have genuinely never seen one that is so in depth on all aspects of plant identification. In the early pages it breaks down all of the terminology and provides highly detailed illustrations of how the terminology translates into the plant life so that you have more than just a textual reference to go by; it covers everything from the reproductive portions of plants, to plant leaf shape types, and a plethora of other things. It also covers a wide range of plants varying from Grasses, all the way up to trees and virtually everything in between. There are even maps to be found within each plants’ listing highlighting the areas the plants are native to!
The information for the plants themselves seems to be divided into 3 categories. The first is the visual lineart representation and break down of the plant in true botanical style. Second comes the textual details of the plant covering such things like lifespan, plus a textual break down of the plant’s characteristics as demonstrated in the lineart depiction. The third and last category goes so far as to detail the value and uses of each specimen.
The back of the book also includes a glossary, list of Authorities, a complete bibliography and resource list, and a fully encompassing index for easier navigation to specific plants.
It does have drawbacks, however.
Though the individual plant descriptions do list medicinal uses for the plants who have them, the descriptions are brief and to the point (though so far accurate). This also does not list which plants are toxic- though it does list some possible allergen triggers and some symptoms contact with these plants may cause. The amount of information for each plant is diverse, but little. I would have liked to see more information for each plant even with the descriptions being brief and to the point.
The book is pretty sizable regardless and still serves as a perfect companion to other books involving plants; especially for those interested in North American foraging and wild harvesting, or those interested in herbal medicines, etc. I would, however, certainly suggest that if you pick this book up, you also grab a complete medicinal herbal and cross reference between them. I believe it to be a must for this book due to lack of information- again, especially if you are picking this book up for foraging and wild harvesting or herbal medicine purposes.