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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2002
I've been teaching in the outdoors using field guides with novices for 18 years, so I offer this advice to assist beginners in choosing a wildflower guide. I have used both this book and the Newcomb book and greatly prefer this one, although Newcomb's is very good. Newcomb's uses a series of keys, which I guess some people find more "sophisticated." Although the key in Newcombs isn't hard to use, I find that the Peterson guide is faster and easier to use in the field. I have also observed that beginners are less likely to make mistakes using the Peterson wildflower guide. The big plus of the Peterson book is the identification system. The flowers are first arranged by color and the book is color coded. Although wild plants may not always be showing their flower colors, 9 times out of ten when the amateur is identifying a flowering plant, it will be in bloom. You can use the Peterson guide to learn the key characterisitics of a blooming plant so that later on when it is not blooming you will still be able to find it in the book and recoginze it.
In the next stage of the Peterson wildflower guide's organization, the plants are arranged by similar visual characteristics. There is a simple outline and description of this system at the beginning of the book. The book utilizes helpful icons, which are featured at the tops of all the descriptive pages for quick thumb-through reference. I have found this icon system very helpful in teaching plant identification because it provides a systematic approach that the beginner can pick up quickly and easily. The Peterson system greatly facilitates intial accuracy of identification at the level of plant family. Once you learn the system of what to look for when observing a plant, the icons allow speed and efficiency when using the book in the field.
At the final stage of identification, the species level, the Peterson guide has excellent written descriptions and the important subtle differences between species are well highlighted, with both text and arrows on the drawings. As other reviewers have stated, the Peterson book has more illustrations than Newcomb, and the highlighted habitat/range descriptions also help in quickly placing a plant. The black and white illustrations are not bothersome since you already know the flower color, and line drawings show key characteristics clearly. The use of illustrations instead of photos is always preferred in a field guide, even though photos seem like a good idea at first glance. A good illustrator shows the plant in the best light and makes sure the key features are visible and prominent.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 1998
This is a very good field guide to wildflowers, but I do have a few gripes about the book. First of all, most of the pictures are black and white line drawings with some color plates. Many students that I have that use the book for identifying flowers have difficulties with many of the drawings. The descriptions of the flowers are a little sketchy. Also, several species that are in my area are not in the book (the author does point out in the beginning of the book that the book may not be accurate at the perimeter of the region due to species from surrounding areas infiltrating these areas. Kentucky is one of those states on the border. I would like to see a book for the Southern US to see if these species are listed there.) The book does have several strengths though. First of all, it lists more species than other books I have used and does a great job of pointing out subtle differences between related species. The book is also arranged by color and grouped by type and arrangement of flower. The inner jacket is basically a picture dictionary of botany terminology. I recommend this book for anyone interested in wildflowers and want to be able to identify them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2001
I have used this book for 20 years to identify wildflowers successfully; the drawings and paintings capture the essence of the flower in a way no photo does; the book includes many less commonly found plants so you are more likely to find what you're looking for; and it is organized by flower color which is most likely to be what drew your attention in the first place. Excellent reference, easily used.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 1999
I found this book to be of minimal use. It contains only around 20 color plates and the rest is black and white photos which do little to help identify a flower in the field.
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on June 21, 1999
Though I personally prefer Newcomb's Wildflower Guide over this one, I have found that when in doubt after reading Newcomb's description of a plant, this book helps me decide whether or not it is correct. It's smart to always use more than one guide for identifying plants because different authors notice different qualities that they think are important. I'm not too keen on identifying any plant by the color of the flower, because it limits the amount of time you have to identify a plant. Newcomb's system is much, much better for finding plants that are not in bloom, though part of the key relies on flower parts. Until someone comes up with an easy key for identifying plants based on vegetation only, I suggest buying both this book and Newcomb's book.
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on December 3, 1999
I own several wildflower identification books, and this one is among my favorites. I often use it in conjunction with other books, but it also does well on its own. I like the fact that the subjects are listed by color - this makes it much easier for me to differentiate species when out in the woods. I have given this book as a gift to flower-loving friends.
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on August 25, 2015
Good guide but a serious lack of color pictures...
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on July 4, 2014
Good for Your backpack. Complete.
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