Hey all; I recently purchased the updated Audubon society Trees of North America guide, hoping it be able to at least get me on the right path to being better at tree identification. Unfortunately its missing some things that I’m realizing I really want when it comes to plant/tree identifications.
Mainly, any sort of proper taxonomic key. Its great to have so many species at my fingertips, but frankly pretty useless because it doesn’t make it easy at all to figure out what you’re looking at without looking at outside sources.
Plus the pictures are… not fully what I was hoping for. Some entries lack proper visuals for leaves, fruiting structures, or bark - green blobs are, unfortunately, not very useful for identification.
So I guess what I’m wondering - does anyone have any suggestions for a good eastern USA tree guide that has a good key and also concise, useful pictures/illustrations? bonus points if it can actually make bark make sense, and isn’t out of print wildly expensive
Common Alabama trees easy to use guide: https://www.aces.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/ANR-0509_KeyToNativeCommonTrees_042321L-REVISION.pdf
More detailed of 100 most common trees in Alabama: https://forestry.alabama.gov/Pages/Management/Forms/Forest_Trees_Alabama.pdf
If this is too far outside your area for species, check with your forestry commission. At least for the SE, there are pretty active state forestry and they put out a lot of free helpful guides and ID classes and all sorts of stuff. I tend to prefer the older plate style of the above links, because the correct details jump out and are well labeled and/or described.
Its at least a start, thanks! I’m an old fart sometimes when it comes to books and like just having pages i can flip through.
I’m in zone 6 though so id definitely need something more northerly. The appalacians dont split biomes quite as badly as the rockies but you can still see some big species differences
I also loveee the classic identification plates. Theyre not perfect but i feel like they do a great job of bringing your attention to key identifiers
The Sibley Guide to Trees is by far the best North American tree field guide, IMO.
When I’m trying to key out a woody plant in my corner of the eastern US, I find myself reaching for my copy of Swanson’s Field Guide to the Trees and Shrubs of the Southern Appalachians. This comes with several caveats: It was published nearly 30 years ago, so the taxonomy may be a bit outdated by now and you may have to hunt for it among used books. It’s definitely no picture book and not for the casual lay person - just winter/summer keys and a couple of illustrations. They’re excellent and I find them helpful, but there’s not a single photograph in the entire book. And the author chickened out on the hawthorns so it does not provide a key to Crataegus species.
Honeslty might look for a used copy - illustrations are completely fine by me, often i find tree photos unhelpful anyway