Ohio Book Report

Ohio Book Review

Equinox Botanicals
September 5-15, 2007

This year I stayed a few extra days after the class left and this afforded me the time to key out some of the common plants (i.e. Solidago’ s) that I have wanted to for a while. And I got a chance to use a number of the below volumes. I also took Peaches the Van into the field so I was able to bring all my field guides with me. The best combination is probably Gleason and Cronquist (Flora and Illustrated), Strausbaugh and Core and The Ohio University Press.

1.A Falcon Guide-Central Appalachian Wildflowers-Medina and Medina
2.Flora of  West Virginia-Strausbaugh and Core
3.Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist-Holmgren
4.Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide-Newcomb
5.The Book of Field and Roadside-Eastman and Hansen
6.The Book of Forest and Thicket-Eastman and Hansen
7.The Dicotyledons of Ohio-Part 1-Asteraceae
8.The Dicotyledons of Ohio-Part 2-Cooperidder
9.The Monocotyledons of Ohio-Braun
10.The Woody Plants of Ohio-Braun
11.Vascular Flora of the United States and Adjacent Canada-Gleason and Cronquist

Gleason and Cronquist-Vascular Flora and Illustrated Companion
While Southern Ohio is slightly out of their range, both of these are very helpful. I won’t write of their value and deficiencies here, but I will say that along with Strausbaugh and Core, I could key out many of the local flora. Add the Ohio State University Flora’s and you gotta pretty good combo.

Vascular Flora of Ohio-Asteraceae (Ohio State University Press)
I have used this volume numerous times while keying out plants in Southern Ohio (Meigs County) and I have found it very helpful. It is useful that is covers only Ohio (I generally use Gleason and Cronquist for this area, and then there are many Asteraceae to sort out) and so narrows down this impressively large family. Also, since they devote a whole large-sized book to this topic, there is a lot more information in many of the keys to further bore down to the species. And then there are the county maps and good quality black and white illustrations, all adding to this books allure.
I use it with The Flora of West Virginia (Strausbaugh and Core) which has most of the plants found in this part of Southern Ohio.
The biggest problem may be its size. While I do sometimes carry it into the field, when it is added alongside with the other books of this series, it is a bit of a back-breaker. But it works well and I think I can wrench a few more years from my back.
To sum up, bring this book along if you will be keying out plants in Ohio.

The Vascular Flora of Ohio-The Dicotyledoneae of Ohio-Linaceae through Campanulaceae-Cooperridder
The Vascular Flora of Ohio-The Monocotyledoneae-Braun (Ohio State University Press)
As with the above part of this series these are all useful for the same reasons, mainly devoting a large book complete with many illustrations and site maps. And also I use them alongside Strausbaugh and Core. Once again, their main difficulty is size and weight per book, fortunately this time I took some time after students left and did some car-keying allowing time to use these books.

Flora of West Virginia-Strausbaugh and Core
This is an excellent book for the area around Equinox Botanicals. Its size and illustrations make a valuable field guide each time I come here. The keys are also helpful, and they seem written by the authors instead of always copied from other authors, thereby making it useful alongside other floras of the region that often copy the keys from each other. In other words this book can add a unique aspect to the identification, plus it has a reasonably long description about each plant. I have reviewed it previously and suffice to say, I would continually bring this along.

The Woody Plants of Ohio-E. Lucy Braun
This book has the advantage of narrowing its subject and restricting its region, and so thank you E. Lucy Braun. It too comes through by having good black and white line illustrations (many with twig, leaf, and fruit), and region maps. The keys are just okay and some of them seem dated. I also have to admit that I have not used this book that much, as I often know which woody plant I am looking at, and I reckon if I used it more, I would find it more useful. For many plants it gives both summer and winter character keys. I would continually bring it along and hope to try it our more often, perhaps on plants I know to ascertain its credentials. The few times I have used it I used it alongside G&C and the illustrated companion and all together they helped me identify a plant or two.

A Falcon Guide-Central Appalachian Wildflowers-Medina and Medina
I am disappointed in this particular wildflower Falcon Guide. In overall tone and in the specific. Some of the specifics are the quality of the photos are not quite as good as other Falcon guides, and the information about individual plants seems lacking as well. For instance, if you look at Eupatorium fistulosum their comparison with E. purpureum doesn’t include the different habitats they live, the number of florets per involucre, and the difference in the hollowness of the stem. Plus (as I learned the long way) that the vanilla-smell is not consistent. While these may be piddling, they make me wonder how many of the plants they write about have they examined closely. I don’t mean to discourage or be an arse about this, but the book seems more hollow (as like the stems of Eupatorium fistulosum) than others of this series. Other piddlings, it would be helpful if they noted whether the plant was native or not. Also they use the term ‘mad-dog skullcap’ which I don’t know if I ever heard anyone (except in jest) say this aloud (think Maryjane for Cannabis). And in the information about Scutellaria they mention the common name they site and origins as well as a ‘supposed to cure hysteria’. How cute, but if they are going to go this route, why not talk about how it is currently used. A cheap shot really.
Thing I do like. Like most of the books of this series, the photos and lack of clutter of them makes it pretty easy to page through the book and try to find a match for the plant in hand.  The glossary is good, and I like how they write about how beautiful Lythrum salicaria is and how it is invasive. Good one.
So I would probably bring this along in a vehicle, though not in a backpack.

The Book of Field and Roadside, The Book of Forest and Thicket-Eastman
I have written about this series and not much has changed. These are informative, easy to read nature guides about plants and some of their co-inhabitants. They are not useful for field guides, but for learning and teaching devices they are very beneficial. I have learned much for myself as well as making classes more interesting about individual plants (such as Lythrum salicaria and Darwin).
So I will bring these if I am car-keying, especially if I have ample reading time and a class to teach. Thank you Mr. Eastman