[US] - What are the best field guides for your state?

Hey, everyone! I’m working on a project that (if it ever works/gets completed) might be a useful resource for naturalists (only in the US at the moment, though). It’s basically a compilation of what naturalists deem to be the best field guides for US states/areas depending on the taxa. For example, if you wanted to find out what the best guide for reptiles is in Texas or the best wildflower book for Florida, this would tell you. I’m not sure if this exists already, but I’m already starting… I need your help, though!

If you live in the US and have experience with guides, please let me know what guides you find useful for what taxa + what state you live in. I’m not sure if this is against the rules, but if it is then this will be taken down anyways. Thank you!


A few lesser known guides to share:

Common Bees of the Eastern/Western United States by Wilson & Carril
Cactus of Colorado; Penstemon of SE Colorado; Cactus of NM (coming soon) by Barnett & Barnett
Tiger Beetles of New Mexico


John Muir Laws Field Gide to the Sierra Nevadas is a decent one. Obviously it doesn’t cover a State so much as a specific region, but I think using natural boundaries and feautures is probably a more sensible approach to writing a field guide than arbitrary state lines.


Time to dump some mushroom book info (this isn’t all my books, mind, just the ones I find myself reaching for the most.

Mind, I live in NE Ohio, so these books are definitely catered to Ohio/Pennslvania regions - think central Appalachia

Mushrooms of the Northeast - by Teresa Marrone & Walt Sturgeon: I love this little field guide. Its quite compact and doesn’t really take up a ton of extra weight, and I think does a great job of explaining different mushroom groups in a way that is understandable even to the beginner. Obviously there are some pages focused on one species, but its not afraid to group the more difficult groups together - so there’s a page for Helvella, a page for Russula, a page for Lactarius, etc. And bonus, one of the authors, Walt Sturgeon, is active on iNat if you’re in the area (big mushroom ider, obviously) and holds workshops around the region quite often.

Field Guide to Wild Mushrooms of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic - by Bill Russel: This is the other field guide that I own, I don’t use it quite as often (its about twice as tall as the other field guide, so a little bulkier,) but does have good information as well. Fungi are organized by seasons, so it makes it easy to flip through a smaller section to find what you’re looking at without having to go digging too much.

Mushrooms of West Virginia and the Central Appalachians - by William C Roody: This is not a field guide, its a proper, large, detailed book. It has great pictures, great descriptions, and I love that everything is organized by major identifying features of the mushrooms - IE there’s a section for boletes, a section for shelf fungi, a section for cap-and-stem fungi with gills, etc. Its pretty intuitive to go through and IMHO my favorite book on the shelf.

Mushrooms Demystified - David Arora: This book is definitely not a field guide, its more of a bible. Full disclosure, Arora definitely is more of a west coast mycologist and it shows since I do occasionally find it lacking in a few east coast species, BUT if you’re looking for a higher level book that has excellent taxonomic keys and many species that are never going to show up in a more user-friendly field guide, this is it. Though I’ll be honest, I usually end up pulling this out when I’m trying to ID something difficult and then realize I can’t regardless because I don’t own a microscope. Whoops.

The Bolete Filter - Okay so this is a website, not technically a field guide; its a taxonomic key site that is largely based off of the book North American Boletes (which I also own,) and one of my go-tos for filtering boletes down to species. I seriously wish there was a resource like this for some other mushroom groups, because my goodness is it useful. (I desperately want this but for amanitas XD)

Mushroom Expert - this is another website curated by the Ohio-based mycologist Michael Kuo, and another absolutely phenomenal resource. He has multiple published works, I own Mushrooms of the Midwest, but the website cannot be beaten for ease of use. I will say, he generally avoids writing about edibility of mushrooms, so if you are looking for a guide for that you’ll have to check elsewhere - but otherwise it is a wonderful resource.


Agreed. But the average person might just be looking for stuff in their state, so it could be helpful to list the states in a given region (or vice versa).

I have a bunch of mollusk resources on my profile. Some are by state, others region, others the whole country. I have more that aren’t free if that is of interest.


Growing up in Rhode Island, I love Save The Bay. They released a book called Save The Bay’s Uncommon Guide to Common Life of Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Coastal Waters, which I owned until I lost it a couple years back. This book was one of the reasons I turned to nature, and iNaturalist subsequently. Unfortunately, it’s pretty hard to find a copy of the book, but it’s extremely useful organisms in New England waters.


“Mushrooms of the Southeast”
Todd F. Elliot & Steven L. Stephenson
ISBN: 978-1-60469-730-8


From way back when I was stationed at Pearl Harbor:

Hawaiian Damselflies
Don Polhemus and Adam Asquith
ISBN: 0-930897-91-9

Hawaii’s Butterflies and Moths
Dean Jamieson and Jim Denny
ISBN: 1-56647-527-9

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Amphibians and Reptiles of Florida
Kenneth Krysko, Kevin Enge, and Paul Moler
ISBN: 9781683400448

This is a good guide to the native and introduced herp species in Florida.

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