I didn’t know a lot about my grandparents. I guess you could say I’ve never been bitten by the genealogical bug that drives some to go back hundreds of years in search of family history. I think it’s called finding your family tree. I do know that at some point during my paternal grandfather’s life, he worked as a lumberjack, which is probably how my father learned how to identify trees. Unfortunately, I’m not very adept at tree identification. I can tell a maple from an oak, and a pear from an apple, but we all know there’s hundreds more varieties.

So, when I heard about the Arbor Day Foundation coming out with a compact little tree identification book, I was intrigued. About a week later, I received an advanced copy of the little book and I now offer my review.

A sort of disclaimer first though, there’s no leaves on the trees yet here in zone 5 western PA, but that really don’t alter my critique of this little book. The first thing I do with any new book is hold it to my nose, fan through the pages, and inhale deeply; I just love the smell of a new book. You avid readers know what I mean. The second thing I noticed was the book’s water-resistant cover, which feels really rugged and would prevent some water damage should you encounter a rain shower while using the book. However, the book’s inside pages are not waterproof. But I wouldn’t think many folks would be out tryin to ID trees in the rain anyway.

There’s flaps on the front and back of the book. The front one unfolds to show “Words to Know” and gives simple definitions of 26 words relating to parts of a tree. There’s a couple of small, nicely done drawings, one shows three different types of samara (winged fruit), some maples have what I call “helicopter” samara; the other has a couple of leaves with identifying features named, there’s also a small drawing of a stem showing a “bud scar.” These are all what I would consider to be very helpful tree identification facts. Inside the back flap is Arbor Day Foundation information along with an edge ruler (in cm), and on the outside is info about the book and an edge ruler in inches (handy for general purpose measuring).

So, how do you use the book to identify a tree? It’s really easy. All you have to do is answer a series of “yes” and “or” questions which direct you to another identifying feature, or gives you the name of the tree. The illustrations by Karina I. Helm are very well done with just the right amount of detail.

Included in the little book is the “Arbor Day Hardiness Zones” map and several blank pages at the end for “Field Notes” and “Field Sketches,” and an Index. I give the “What Tree Is That?” tree identification guide a positive review and would recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about what trees might be growing in their neck of the woods. Its compact size, great drawings, and ample listing of trees make it a valuable addition to the garden bookshelf.

You can order “What Tree Is That?” online now. The book will also be available everywhere else April 1st.

By TC Conner

Pro hobbyist photographer, drone enthusiast, musician, husband and father.

16 replies on “Trees”

I think I’ll have to get this one! Between Grandma and my botany class, I know several but often see one I wish I could name.Thanks for pointing it out. 🙂

W2W: “…an acquired taste.” Indeed. And humidity tastes too much like sweat! ;~)Dave: If you’ve used yours, you can probably identify a lot more trees than I. Hopefully, I’ll increase my knowledge with this book.WS: I suppose trees might have self-esteem, anthropomorphically speaking. ;~)

Ya know, books are meant to be read, not smelled… That said, I like that new book smell too. The contents also look like this is a great reference book. While I find it worthwhile to learn the names of pretty trees that show off with flowers, interesting seeds or foliage, I tend to ignore the workaday trees that are simply green. My preference in tree-ID-ing reminds me that’s how the elementary school teachers knew the names of the cool kids but never remembered my name. Do you suppose the green trees have self-esteem issues?

Thanks for the seedling offer, TC, but I’m not sure the northern red maples are the same thing we have down here. The southern form probably tolerates that delicious humidity a lot better. It’s an acquired taste.

Ms Terri: I’ve used it several times since the weather’s warmed up enough for me to be out, and I think it’s a great little book. (No, I didn’t know aliens liked skunks. But I liked ET.)W2W: Shall I dig you a saplin? Maples are weed trees up here. Ms Susie: Even old books have a certain aroma. Go sniff one and I’m certain you’ll agree. Ms. Tina: It fits in the back pocket of my jeans too. Ms. Marnie. It’d be perfect for that. FD: Smarty pants! ;~PMs. Sherry: I think you’d like this little tree book. I do. Mr. BT: You’re most welcome. Ms. Helen. Thanks for stopping in. I met Ellen several years ago at my very first Philly Flower Show. Skeeter: I bet it would be perfect for that. Felder Rushing says the humidity is so thick down south that you can lick it. Now that’s thick!

Down here in the Deep South, the water proof cover would be great to keep sweat stains (from your brow) off the book… 🙂

I have been looking for a good tree field guide. I shall check this one out. Thanks for the review. I do love the new book smell too!Sherry

Can you tell the difference between a Pear and an Apple tree before they bear fruit, or just after:))

That does sound like a great tree guide. I had to smile when you said you enjoyed the smell of a new book. That is an awesome smell! I just started a new book, I think I better go smell of it right now!

I am enamored of a certain maple right now–Acer rubrum, southern form. It likes a swamp, something else I’m fond of. One question, TC: Is that braugh underwire?

That sounds like a great book to take along for a hike… if a person had time to hike, that is! :)The verification word is qdsinsin, which must be an alien word (did you know that aliens like skunks?), because I don’t even know what to do with it!

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