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A Deeper Look Bibliography

This list covers books that dig deeper into some aspect of botany. Note: book cover sizes in the list below are shown relative to each other. The list is organized by primary author. Some out-of-copyright books are available free at the supplied links.

The Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth

Author(s): Conniff, Richard

Publisher: W. W. Norton and Company, 2011

ISBN: 978-0393341324

View at: Amazon.com

Comments: In the mid-1700s Carl Linnaeus came up with a system for indentifying living things based on properties they had in common. This was the first serious attempt to classify nature's nearly limitless variety, and it kicked off a European and later worldwide infatuation with finding and naming living things. In Richard Connif's hands, this is not a dry story of academic accomplishment, but a swashbuckling account of personalities, intrigues, egos, hostile environments, immense sacrifices, and incredible achievements. I couldn't put it down.

Wildflowers of the Eastern United States

Author(s): Eastman, John

Publisher: Stackpole Books, 2014

ISBN: 978-0811713672

View at: Amazon.com

Comments: This isn't so much an identification guide as a deeper look into some of the commonest wildflowers of the eastern US. When John Eastman looks at a wildflower, he perceives it as part of the interlocking ecological web in which it is enmeshed. Its relatives, its enemies, the animals and insects that feed on it. Where it thrives, how it reproduces, how it is pollinated, herbal lore. This, along with Eastman's other books, left me with a more deeply nuanced understanding of the balance of nature. 130 species, with nice photos. 282 pages.

Eastern United States

The Book of Forest and Thicket: Trees, Shrubs, and Wildflowers of Eastern North America

Author(s): Eastman, John; illustrated by Hansen, Amelia

Publisher: Stackpole Books, 1992

ISBN: 978-0811730464

View at: Amazon.com

Comments: I love these books! (See also The Book of Swamp and Bog and The Book of Field and Roadside.) Learning to identify a plant is one matter, a pleasant challenge to be sure, but one that leaves us with only the most superficial of introductions. What if you could be fully immersed in the world of the plant? Eastman's books describe a relatively small number of common species in rich but not overly technical detail. I feel like a tiny bee might, as I see the insects that frequent the plant, the fungal blights it must tolerate, the birds who favor its fruits, its friends and associates. Amelia Hansen's detailed line drawings focus sometimes on the plant itself, but often on some aspect of the plant's environment. These books aren't really field guides, but they are much more. 212 pages.

Eastern North America

The Book of Field and Roadside: Open-Country Weeds, Trees, and Wildflowers of Eastern North America

Author(s): Eastman, John; illustrated by Hansen, Amelia

Publisher: Stackpole Books, 2003

ISBN: 978-0811726252

View at: Amazon.com

Comments: I love these books! (See also The Book of Swamp and Bog and The Book of Forest and Thicket.) Learning to identify a plant is one matter, a pleasant challenge to be sure, but one that leaves us with only the most superficial of introductions. What if you could be fully immersed in the world of the plant? Eastman’s books describe a relatively small number of common species in rich but not overly technical detail. I feel like a tiny bee might, as I see the insects that frequent the plant, the fungal blights it must tolerate, the birds who favor its fruits, its friends and associates. Amelia Hansen's detailed line drawings focus sometimes on the plant itself, but often on some aspect of the plant's environment. These books aren't really field guides, but they are much more. 336 pages.

Eastern North America.

The Book of Swamp and Bog: Trees, Shrubs, and Wildflowers of Eastern Freshwater Wetlands

Author(s): Eastman, John; illustrated by Hansen, Amelia

Publisher: Stackpole Books, 1995

ISBN: 978-0811725187

View at: Amazon.com

Comments: Describes "trees, shrubs, and wildflowers of eastern freshwater wetlands." This book, and others in the series, is not a guide in the traditional sense. It describes a relatively small number of common species in their full ecological context, providing deeper insight into the world that surrounds each plant. The author lists birds and other associated animals; insects that feed on (or in some cases are digested by) the plants; pollinators and gall-producing insects; and fungal threats. Descriptions are rich with detail, but not overly technical. 237 pages.

Eastern North America

Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity

Author(s): Edited by Chivian, Eric and Bernstein, Aaron

Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2008

ISBN: 978-0195175097

View at: Amazon.com

Comments: This beautiful volume is not a field guide. It is the result of a large scale international effort, initiated in 1992, to coordinate "what was known about how other species contribute to human health." The project was directed by Nobel Peace Prize-winning scientist Eric Chivian, and consolidates information from over 100 contributors. It demonstrates in myriad ways that biodiversity is essential to human existence. 542 pages.

Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast: A Natural History

Author(s): Gracie, Carol

Publisher: Princeton University Press, 2012

ISBN: 978-0691144665

View at: Amazon.com

Comments: This is a collection of essays about some common wildflowers from the northeastern United States. Carol Gracie’s stories provide a much deeper understanding of the role each plant plays in its enviornment, and 500 detailed photos capture the beauty and uniqueness of these flowers. This is not a field guide, it is a book about natural history. Another of Gracie's books, which she co-authored with Steven Clemants, is Wildflowers in the Field and Forest, among my favorites. 272 pages.

Northeastern United States.

The Forest Unseen

Author(s): Haskell, David George

Publisher: Penguin Books, 2013

ISBN: 978-0143122944

View at: Amazon.com

Comments: An amazing book! What would happen if you drew a circle about a meter in diameter at an arbitrary spot in the woods, then visited the same spot nearly every day for a year? Plenty, at least if you train yourself to play close attention to more of what is going on. David Haskell writes with a deep understanding of ecology; familiarity with a wide range of plant, animal, fungal, and microscopic life; and the soul of a poet. The book is organized as a series of short, rich essays prompted by different visits. I recommend this book for anyone who wants to understand the forest’s intriciate web of living relationships on a deeper level. The book is easy to read, not laden with dense terminology. Oh, and you'll find out what a mandala is.

Seeing Trees

Author(s): Hugo, Nancy Ross; Photographed by Llewellyn, Robert

Publisher: Timber Press, 2013

ISBN: 978-1604692198

View at: Amazon.com

Comments: Seeing Trees is not a field guide, though it will most certainly improve your ability to identify trees in the wild. It falls somewhere between coffee table book, with its large format, nontechnical presentation, and arresting photography; and enthusiast's guide to the world of trees. Roughly the first half of the book is a series of discussions about traits of trees. The rest is dedicated to a much deeper discussion of only ten species of trees, with the goal of understanding how they function, reproduce, and interact with their environment. This is a book that deepens our perspective of the natural world. 242 pages.

Forest Forensics

Author(s): Wessels, Tom

Publisher: The Countrymen Press, 2010

ISBN: 978-0881509182

View at: Amazon.com

Comments: Described as a "field guide to reading the forested landscape," this is not a guide to identifying plants, but rather a guide to determining the uses to which land has been placed in past. Based on clues such as land shape, type and distribution of rocks, stumps and growth patterns of trees, Wessels is able to infer how land was previously used. 160 pages.