Adirondack Book Report

Book Report

Adirondack Field Trip
August 16, 2007

On this field trip, I keyed out just a few plants, so I didn’t give some of the books a full chance. So while there are many books below, I divided them into those I used and did not use. In future Adirondack field trips, I may still bring most of the load (which is made considerably easier, as it is not so far away).
One of the reasons I did not key out so often, is that I am becoming familiar with the Adirondack flora and so just do not need to look up plants as much. I like this, but still hope to key out more next time. Also, this trip was more focused on finding and gathering medicinals as well as seeing some unique ecosystems, and the class did not key out any plants as a group.

The Full Book List
1.Adirondack Upland Flora-Kudish
2.Adirondack Wildguide-DiNunzio
3.DeLorme New York State Atlas and Gazetteer
4.Ferns-Peterson Field Guide-Cobb/Farnsworth/Lowe
5.Flora of the Northeast-Magee and Ahles
6.Forest Trees of the Northeast-Cornell Cooperative Extension
7.Manual of the Vascular Plants of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada-Gleason and Cronquist
8.Mountain Flowers of New England-Appalachian Mountain Club
9.Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide
10.North Woods Wildflowers-A Falcon Guide-Ladd
11.The Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist’s Manual-Holmgren
12.Trees and Shrubs of the Adirondacks-Chapman & Bessette
13.Wild Orchids of the Northeastern United States-A Field Guide-Brown
14.Wildflowers of the Adirondacks-McGrath

The Did Not Use List

1.Adirondack Upland Flora-Kudish-There are a number of reasons that this book is not very useful for me, but it may come down primarily that I do not spend any time in the upland flora proper, and this book seems primarily intended for foresters or other types who need to know some information about the flora of this region. And it has no keys. So, should I bring it? Probably not, unless I go to the Upland region and want to know more about how the plants cohabitate there.

2.Adirondack Wildguide-DiNunzio-This smallish book is a natural history field guide to the Adirondacks, and while I have only occasionally glanced thru it, I like its style, format, illustrations and information and would like to read it there and beforehand to help students (and myself) understand what we see in the terrain and wildlife of this beautiful region.

3.Ferns-Peterson Field Guide-Cobb/Farnsworth/Lowe-Unfortunately I did not give this book any time on this trip, as I so want to learn the ferns and the ins and outs of this field guide. Sigh, perhaps tomorrow.

4.Forest Trees of the Northeast-Cornell Cooperative Extension-For some reason, I did not touch my trees books on this trip, so coincide-ly I did not use this little volume. It looks good though, especially that it gives a lot of useful information beyond identification (and in fact it has no keys. One must know which plant they are looking at to glean the information). So as far as bringing it along, its use is somewhat negligible, especially if I would remember to bring along the Eastman series.

5.Mountain Flowers of New England-Appalachian Mountain Club-Another dainty book that I did not use. The reason I brought it along, and should bring along again, and use, is that despite its title, there are keys, photos and illustrations of many non-flowering plants such as common lichens, sedges and grasses. The photos are old school but still useful. Basically as I page thru it right now, I realize I can use it to help identify some to the rushes and other species unfamiliar to me now and for next trip. Bring it dude.

6.Trees and Shrubs of the Adirondacks-Chapman and Bessette- As mentioned elsewhere, I was particularly lame this year at figuring out new trees and shrubs and if I had the wherewithal to do so, this little book may have been a right bit handy, as it has keys, a few illustrations and some color photos.  So, 7Song, next time, take a breath, and before you get out of the car, slide this little volume into your pocket, alongside the notebook, and bust it out occasionally. You know what to do.

The Used List

1.DeLorme New York State Atlas and Gazetteer-As usual, this map was exceptionally useful to have. And perhaps like usual again, there were some mistakes of roads depicted on the map. I have marked this specific NY state map out with some locations so I can find some useful medicinal plants on future field trips.

2.Flora of the Northeast-Magee and Ahles-I am just beginning to use this flora and for the most part I like it. It seems a bit simpler, without sacrifice of precision, than G&C. It really shines when it makes a thorough departure from the keys of G&C such as it did with Platanthera clavellata. The small maps accompanying most plants are useful as well as the occasional illustrations (wish they had more though). I may start employing this book locally and see how far I get. I reckon it helps in that it has a more restricted floral zone than G&C. And there it is, it’s all about the comparison. More on this book in upcoming Book Reports.

3.Manual of the Vascular Plants of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada-Gleason and Cronquist-Naturally, as I am most familiar with this most familiar of books, it was a primary source for keying. And as usual, it shone in some areas and in others it was the ugly complexity that drives students and botanists to distraction. However, it fits the bill and I will wear the shoe.  However again, I began using the Flora of the Northeast by Magee and Ahles and it really helped as sometimes their keys were easier to use without losing any of their precision (such as with Platanthera clavellata). Decision, bring both.

4.Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide-I personally did not use Newcomb’s much due to my passing familiarity to many of the common plants we saw. Though it was probably very helpful for some of the students who used it individually. And of course it kicks easy-to-use-biblio-ass even with its many flaws. It is the easy-to-use field guide for the Adirondacks.

5.North Woods Wildflowers-A Falcon Guide-Ladd-While this book does hold up the tradition of the sexy photos and well-laid design, I found it a bit less useful than others of this series. It may just be that I knew many of the plants and so used it less as a simple color photo book, but I feel empowered to sally forth with this book on the next Adirondack adventure.

6.The Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist’s Manual-Holmgren- Duh, bring it.

7.Wild Orchids of the Northeastern United States-A Field Guide-Brown-I was excited to try out this orchid guide as I have had it for a while and hoped by the nature of its simple keys, drawings, photos and limited range that it would help in my orchid identification. Alas, though I only used it twice (and only once thoroughly) this was not the case. I spent a while looking up Platanthera clavellata, and some of the keys were just not nearly explicit enough. It seems they want it to look simple (i.e., without a lot of words), but this is frustrating if they don’t say that entire can include some lobes (as on the lip of the previously named species). And as recorded elsewhere in this Report, G&C weren’t much good, but Magee and Ahles called it right by naming the obvious. So obviously I should try this orchid guide again, but it will be on small hope.

8.Wildflowers of the Adirondacks-McGrath-In some ways I like this little volume, as it does have photos of the common plants specific to the Adirondacks. Unfortunately the photos are dated, and there are no keys. But still, due to its diminutive size, it’s easy enough to have around, along with the Falcon North Woods guide and Newcomb’s when keying out isn’t in the cards.