Wendy's Wanderings

Wendy Wilber

May 11, 2016

A New and Beautiful Way to ID Florida Trees

There are a few books that I like well enough to carry with me in my car. I started keeping books in the car not to read in traffic, but to have quick references for the world around me.

Behind my driver's seat you will find a Florida Wildflower ID book (Taylor), a bird book (Sibley), and since October of 2015, the book "Trees: North and Central Florida," by Koeser, Hasing, Friedman, and Irving.

We have needed a good Florida tree ID book that covers native and non-native species for a long time. This purse-sized field guide will help you identify trees in your neighborhood, parks, and natural areas. It covers 140 native, introduced, and invasive species.

The photos are clear and comprehensive, with shots of leaves, bark, fruit or flower, and the full tree. The trees are arranged by leaf type so you don't have to thumb through the whole book looking at pictures. In fact, there is a very useful dichotomous key in the back pages that can help you identify the tree in question using field characteristics. When I sat in on the Tree Steward class in Duval County, instructor Larry Figart had us use the key to ID unknown trees. The key worked for every tree in all of the student groups.

There is also a great glossary, index, and invasive ratings for the non-native trees. I especially appreciate the natural history notes and information about how the tree is used in Florida. The lead author Andrew Koeser is an assistant professor with the University of Florida IFAS. He works out of the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center and specializes in sustainable horticulture and tree health. A South Florida version of the book is soon to hit the presses. This field guide "Trees: North and Central Florida" is really a must-have reference for Master Gardener volunteers and tree lovers in Florida. At 6 inches by 5 inches, it can fit in your backpack, purse, or even a car seat pocket.

-- Wendy Wilber

Return to the May 2016 Neighborhood Gardener