Officially titled “Field Guide to the Wildflowers of Georgia and Surrounding States,” this new book by Linda Chafin with photographers Hugh and Carol Nourse puts Georgia on the map with its own official field guide. At over 500 pages, covering 750+ plants in detail and another 530 by comparison, this hefty but handy book is no lightweight either.
What makes this field guide different than others, you say? With an emphasis on the state of Georgia, this book is more useful than a book that might cover the whole country or even the eastern US. Included is good background information on the natural communities in which these plants are found. Thorough descriptions of plant characteristics such as leaves, flowers (heads and clusters and even the bracts) are included. This book is meant to be a field guide, after all. Of course, the photographs are outstanding.
I particularly like the occasional information sections like the one on page 119 entitled “Where Have All the Asters Gone?” This one describes the name changes affecting what plants are in the genus Aster. The North American asters are now spread among 7 different genera. Check out how to tell blueberries (Vaccinium) from huckleberries (Gaylussacia) on page 173. Good stuff!
Another really useful feature is the “Similar to” section in the plant characteristics text. For example, one azalea might be compared to another similar one but the “Similar to” description will help you understand how it’s different.
I’ve already used this to identify annual blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium rosulatum), compare Scutellaria blooms and read more about a new plant blooming in my garden, downy wood mint (Blephilia ciliata).
The book is organized into two sections: dicots and monocots. For those more inclined to look for things by flower color, a thumbnail picture guide is included.
Rounded corners and a semi-glossy covering ensures that this book is perfect for use in the field. If you’re serious about identifying more Georgia native plants, this is a book you’ll want to check out.