Field Guide Review: Wildflowers of New England, Timber Press Field Guide

Finally, a new New England wildflower guide.

Wildflowers of New England, a Timber Press Field Guide, was just released this week! Written by Ted Elliman, in partnership with the New England Wildflower Society, Wildflowers of New England is the most anticipated wildflower field guide release in years!

wildflowers of new england timber press field guide
Although it is, well, winter, and we can’t try it out in the field, a first look at this look is quite impressive. Nearly 500 pages, it’s packed with information (and gorgeous color photos!) yet still small enough to fit in a pack for a day in the woods. The key is based on flower bloom color, which is a switch from the key in Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide, which with based on ‘natural structural features.’

There are about 1,100 wildflowers described in Wildflowers of New England. While it does include small flowering shrubs, this book does NOT include any large shrubs, trees, grasses, or other non-flowering plants like club-mosses or ferns. And similar to the GoBotany websiteWildflowers of New England is based on the information in Arthur Haines tome, Flora Novae-Anglicae.

Native vs non-native plants are a topic we are passionate about here at dirty botany, and this book addresses that issue nicely. Per Ellison, one third of the naturalized plants in New England are non-native, or “brought here accidentally or deliberately, from outside the region, and now grows here in natural condition.” Additionally, approximately 100 of those non-native species are considered invasive by the Invasive Plant Atlas of New England (IPANE). Throughout Wildflowers of New England, you will see non-native species noted by an asterisk next to the scientific name.

Wildflowers of New England Field Guide, New England wild flower society

Plant identification is quite simple with this book! The plant descriptions are organized first by flower color – white, yellow, red, blue, green, orange and brown – with the edges of the pages color-coded to match. Easy! From there, the plants are categorized by flower symmetry, number of petals, leaf type, leaf arrangement, and leaf margins. If you are unsure about how to distinguish those features, fear not, for there is a simple pictorial key inside the front and back covers as well as the typical glossary.

Wildflowers of New england Field Guide

Each species description includes the blooming time, typical height, life cycle, whether or not they are rare (specific rankings are not given, but ranked species are labelled as “rare”) and habitat. Speaking of habitats, understanding and acknowledging the habitat of a plant can be just as important as physical characteristics when identifying a plant. Keith is the master of habitats, and it’s this knowledge – combined with lot of time in the woods and a bit of luck – that leads us to our finds.  Wildflowers of New England spends fifteen pages discussing the history of New England’s geological features and describing the natural communities (the habitats) of our area. This is invaluable information for a plant enthusiast!

Wildflowers of New England is certainly a success! Beautiful to thumb through and easy to use, it will be dirty botany’s new go-to wild flower field guide!

Don’t forget to check out all of our favorite field guides here!

Elliman, Ted. Wildflowers Of New England. Timber Press, Inc. 2016

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