Florida Book Report 2006

Florida Book Report 2006

February 3, 2006

1.[Booklet] Guide to the Poisonous and Irritant Plants of Florida-Perkins and Payne- I still haven’t spent much time evaluating the information in this thin booklet. Before leaving next year, I should look thru it to see if it is worth bringing.

2.500 Plants of South Florida-Morton- Another book that I have spent scarce time with, and while it seems like it would make interesting tidbits and info about the plants we see as a class, first I have to see if I will use the info.

3.A Flora of Tropical Florida- Long and Lakela- I like this book, though it has it drawbacks. On the positive side, it is a flora that covers the region I am purloining plant sightings from, which counts for a lot. And the key is workable. It has some great black and white illustrations (yea, them). Tis a tad large at 963 pages. It is perhaps best (certainly better than Wunderlin) in descriptions of species, genera and family, and I used this aspect a bunch. Less helpful are older binomials, though the fact that they are lumpers somehow makes my job easier than W’s more divided approach. It’s a Florida keeper.

4.Aquatic and Wetland Plants of Southeastern United States-Dicotyledons- Godfrey and Wooten- This book has some excellent black and white illustrations and since the southern end of Florida is noticeably wet, many of these plants are covered in this large (933 page) tome. The key seems quite usable, but I did not use it nearly as much as Wunderlin or Long and Lakela. Part of it was just convenience, that using 3 books takes more time than 2, especially tromping around with these weighty volumes. I should use this one more for Wunderlin sucks for individual plant (or genera or family for that matter) descriptions. And the keys to L&L are antiquated, and with these artful pictures potentially describing what I have in front of me…well, give it another go next year old bean. 

5.Birds of Florida-Smithsonian handbooks-Alsop-This was the only bird book that had, so it was the one I used. I did not find it as useful as I thought it would be. I thought that it would be an advantage to have a full page devoted to one bird, but the problem was that it was hard to compare look-alike birds. And while there may be one, I didn’t find a useful key to separate the many birds that unfortunately looked alike to my untrained eye. It would be helpful to go on a guided tour and at least superficially learn a number of them initially and the differences will become more apparent. In other words I need to pay more attention to the differences stupid (Act as though they were plants). So you brought it, so bring it (don’t play, if only I had this software I would get it).

6.Everglades Wildflowers-Falcon guide-Hammer- As with many of the books in the Falcon Guide plant series, this was very helpful, too bad he doesn’t make on for the roadside plants. Many of the plants were included, as least a species within a genus, and the photos are well done. A very helpful feature to these guides is that while they are classified by color, in the index, all the species are listed, and so one could (with a little effort) look at plants by family. Useful.

7.Florida Atlas and Gazetteer- Mais oui.

8.Florida Keys Wildflowers-Falcon guide-Hammer-Like the other book by Hammer (and Falcon) this too was helpful. I don’t know if it’s older, but the photos are not as nice and the layout is also not as good as the Everglades edition. While I relied primarily on the Everglades guide (as that is where I was) there is considerable overlap and so I did pull out this copy often. Unfortunately, if the same plant is found in both editions, then they the use the same photo and description. I would have helpful if they were different, as that is why I was consulting a different text. But it is a good and useful book, thanks Roger.

9.Florida Wild Flowers and Roadside Plants-Bell and Taylor-This is still the best choice to quickly look up photos of plants that are commonly seen, as the title suggests. It is the one I would suggest for someone scurrying around Florida when not looking for the odder plant specimen. The plants are helpfully listed by family, which is quite handy when wondering if this is another darn Rubiaceae or whatnot. The descriptions are brief but decent. Good ‘un.

10.Florida’s Best Native Landscape Plants-Nelson- I used this book extensively last year, but much less so this year. It may be that I actually got out of the city. I noticed that the botany folks at Ann Kolb used this book for the plants growing around there. One of its best features is that each plant has a drawing and a couple of photos, a nice touch (but of course making the book larger). As I try to learn the shrubs and trees next year, I may use it more. It deplorably does not have an index, how annoying. To find a plant, I find a similar one that I know and than look at the ‘similar and related species’ at the bottom of the page to find what I’m looking for. What gives with that?

11.Guide to the Vascular Plants of Florida-2nd ed.-Wunderlin- Well, it was just a matter of time before I purchased and used the flora of Florida. And it is useful, as it is current (2003) and the keys are pretty good (though I wish they would break from former conventions that were not so useful). The book is a reasonable size, but which leads to its biggest downfall, the only descriptions are in the keys leading up to the species. (Actually, there is a small description of each species with info on its common names and former binomials, which is helpful. It also states where it grows) So, I used its keys and then looked up the description is L&L, which worked pretty good. The rumor is that this deficiency will be addressed in a future edition. I was thinking of putting off buying it this year for that copy, but I’m glad I didn’t, as I did use it often enough. Another great quality to this book is that the families and genera are listed in alphabetical order (like Jepson), which makes it useful in the field and when I am researching plants for lists and photos. I kinda miss the phylogenetic twist, but I gotta admit, alphabetic order is much easier. This book has been helpful in keying out the plants (along with the associated website-Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants) since I’ve been home. One thing that has pissed me off is the breaking up of the Scrophulariaceae (Orobanchaceae, Veronicaceae, etc), so it is hard to key out the Penstemony thing I took a photo of.

12.Swamp Song- Larson- This and the below volume are the 2 books I brought along for a wholer naturalist representation of the regions. This was the lighter in tone of the two, a might too light for my tastes, but it is easy to read. I haven’t given it much of shot yet, it would be helpful to look thru it more and decide if I should take it next year.

13.The Everglades Handbook-Lodge- Like the above book, I didn’t give this book too much of a chance, I guess I don’t read as much naturalist stuff as I would like. This one is noticeably drier that the Larson book. I would like to go thru it a bit and again decide if I should bring it next year. The info is good and solid (and stodgy?) in here

14.Weeds of Southern Turfgrasses-Coop extension- I did not use this too much (do I ever?), but somehow I am still enamored with this little book. Having an okay photo or two of turfgrass (i.e. common weeds) plants can be helpful to decide on the most common householders. Probably bring along again, and see if I use it.

A Note from the Post-Florida Keying Out Desk

I spent many hours (and still more to go) identifying the plants and animals from the photos. Below are some resources plus the books I found most helpful
1.Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants website. This was a very valuable source for identifying plants, from its photos and maps and correct spellings along with listing synonyms and whether the plant was native, I used this site for most plant identities.
2.Wunderlin-The keys in this book are sometimes a bit more wieldly than others. The problems remain of lack of description plus it covers the whole state. Yet I consulted it often
3.A Flora of Tropical Florida- Sometimes this was the most handy due to the authors general lumping nature and it covers a more specific region, plus good descriptions.
4.The Biology of Trees Native to Tropical Florida-Tomlinson