The Bottom Line
- Newcomb's Wildflower Guide offers a logical, systematic method of wildflower identification.
- Drawings supplement Newcomb's textual key system for wildflower identification.
- A preface defines the terms you need to know for wildflower identification.
- Newcomb's Wildflower Guide makes amateurs feel like pros in wildflower identification.
- This key system for wildflower identification breaks down when plants aren't in bloom.
- Even for plants in bloom, don't think this method of wildflower identification is always easy!
- Intended for wildflower identification only in Northeastern and North-central North America.
- You must answer questions about a plant's bloom to use the book, so you're out of luck off-season.
- Newcomb's wildflower identification guide is for wildflower identification in No.-eastern and No.-central North America....
- But similar resources exist for other regions, such as this online guide to wildflower identification for the Southeast.
- Not keen on woodland gardens? The more you study wildflowers, the more your interest grows.
- Unlike many such books, Newcomb's wildflower identification guide includes shrubs and vines, too.
- Oh, by the way: wildflower identification is just plain fun, too!
Guide Review - Newcomb's Wildflower Identification Guide
Once I went on a guided wildflower walk. The guides were very serious about the subject. Not surprisingly, their book recommendation to this novice eager to learn more was a very serious book: Lawrence Newcomb's wildflower identification guide.
If you're seeking a book with pretty photographs, Newcomb's wildflower identification guide isn't for you. That's because the method of wildflower identification adopted in this book is known as a "key" system. In his introduction, the author clearly illustrates the problem with the method supplanted by his key system. In speaking of the method of wildflower identification most novices use, Lawrence Newcomb writes, "Typically, the layman approaches it in a haphazard, illogical way, searching at random through his favorite wildflower book, hoping to stumble upon a picture or description that matches his specimen."
By contrast, then, just what is his "key" system for wildflower identification? By answering questions (don't worry: it's multiple choice!) about what a plant looks like, you are guided to wildflower identification in a logical, systematic manner. How? Well, your answers are assigned a 3-digit key number. You then turn to the key numbers section, where your number will be matched up to a wildflower page. Once you arrive at the page, you narrow down your choices (aided by illustrations), until you arrive at the solution.
The key system of wildflower identification is far from easy for the untrained eye; so keep those other books with the pretty pictures handy, for supplemental use. But once you get the hang of it, Newcomb's method for wildflower identification sure beats the "haphazard" method of wildflower identification any day.