Friday, April 24, 2009

What Tree Is That? - A Review

In the U.S., Arbor Day is traditionally celebrated on the last Friday of April. Many will plant a tree on this day, but I want to call attention to a new publication about trees that may help you, whether you're planting one or trying to identify one.

So we're walking through the woods again, and there's this awesome tree off to the right. It's got the loveliest white clusters of blooms and we see them every spring. We always wonder what they are and vow to get a tree guide that we can take along on our hikes so we can figure it out, but we never do.

So when What Tree Is That? - A Guide to the More Common Trees Found in North America arrived in the mail the other day, I let out a "Woo-hoooo!" The Arbor Day Foundation puts out this fabulous publication and I have them to thank for helping us identify the tree in question, as well as providing plenty of excellent illustrations and information to allow us to identify plenty more.

The format of the book is well-organized, with such details as:

  • water resistant
  • take-along size
  • glossary of terms
  • step-by-step approach to identification
  • side flaps for bookmarking
  • color illustrations for each entry

This is the complete North American edition and is well-priced at $14.95. There are many tree guides out there, but the reason I especially like this one is its size (8.5 x 4 x 0.3 inches, 164 pages) and ease of use.

Identification of the trees is done by a process of elimination. (
Are the leaves SIMPLE (one BLADE attached to a stalk or PETIOLE)?)

It also has a list of online resources and a Field Notes section at the back, for recording your own observations.
Just an aesthetic item of note - they've used a favorite font of mine for the titles and headings - 'Terracotta' by Frank Lloyd Wright.

By no means should this be considered the be-all and end-all of tree identification sources, but it does include the commonly-found trees in the U.S. (and much of Canada). To be any more complete wouldn't allow for the portability that What Tree Is That? has. If I could change anything about it, it might be to make it spiral inside the outer cover. But now we're nit-picking and that wouldn't be fair to such a fine publication put out by our friends at the Arbor Day Foundation.

Where to get it:
Arbor Day Foundation - $14.95 + $4.95 shipping

Amazon - $14.95 - qualifies for Free Shipping on orders over $25

Pamphlets are also available for the Eastern and Western U.S. for $4.95 each from the Arbor Day Foundation.

The product or merchandise being reviewed in this blog post was the sole compensation for testing and reviewing the product. All opinions expressed here are mine, with no suggestions whatsoever by the manufacturer or distributor. If I like it, I'll say so. If I don't, I'll say that, too.


Muum said...

oh, I've been on the website! Periodically, I work on increasing my tree knowledge, and that book sounds like a great resource.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

This looks like a great book, and I have been looking for something like this. Thanks!

Shady Gardener said...

We used to celebrate Arbor Day in my classroom by growing our own trees. The Arbor Day Foundation supplied thornless honey locust seeds which we scarified with emery boards. It took us 2 - 4 weeks, depending upon the time I had available, to go through the lessons, etc. It was a wonderful learning experience!

Thanks for bringing Arbor Day to our attention. :-)

Unknown said...

I've been to that website and add my recommendation to yours; I don't have that particular book, but I like the way it's laid out and would happily add it to my collection.

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