TreeBoss Book Review

'What Tree Is That?' book coverTreeBoss was asked to do an advanced review of the Arbor Day Foundation’s new guide on tree identification.

This tall and narrow (8.5” x 4”) colorful pocket-sized guide will be officially released on April 1, 2009. But this guide is no April Fool’s joke!  It has a sturdy water-resistant cover and is built for use in the woods.
Perfectly illustrated by Karina Helm, the new guide uses a basic, easy to learn ‘Yes or No’ flow chart to take you through a simple tree identification process.
The first illustrated question helps determine if you are identifying a tree in the eastern or western part of North America. From there, you start through the flow chart selection process… conifer, evergreen or broadleaf tree? 
Each answer leads you to a new question and illustration.


How to use the new tree guide

Let’s try to identify a White Pine while we are hiking in New York…

For the first question 5A, we select the blue area on the map (Eastern North America) which takes us to 6A - “Does the tree bear cones and have leaves that are needle-like?” (We notice cones in the tree and it has long soft needles)
Our YES answer takes us to 7D – “Are the trees EVERGREEN with the needles arranged in clusters of 2 - 5?” (It’s wintertime and the foliage is still green, so it is an evergreen)
Our YES answer takes us to 8A – “Are the needles clustered in groups of 5 and the cones long with thin scales?” (We notice the needles are bundled in groups of 5 and the cones are long with thin scales)
Our YES answer takes us to 9A – “Eastern White Pine, Pinus strobus, Zones 3 – 8, The fabled tree eagerly sought by the first wave of loggers in America. The provincial tree of Ontario.” This text is accompanied by a nice illustration showing evergreen needles on a branch tip with a suspended cone.

Identification of Eastern White Pine
Eastern White Pine identification


Even if you don’t wish to identify a particular tree, you can leaf through (no pun intended) the guide and familiarize yourself with more than 250 trees, their leaf patterns and characteristics, all in a very quick fashion.
In addition to this book’s value as a personal reference, it may actually be most valuable as the centerpiece of a family’s hiking or camping adventure. For example, a father and son may go on a tree identification hike together, sharing the guide as they explore the wide world of trees around them. In addition to the knowledge gained by each, the quality time spent together lends itself to a great bonding experience. One they may want to share again on future hikes through the woods.

The $14.95 cover price is money well spent, especially considering it helps support the work of the Arbor Day Foundation – "a nonprofit conservation organization of nearly one million members, with a mission to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees."

Book Details:

What Tree Is That?
A guide to the more common trees found in North America

  • 336 illustrations & photographs

  • 164 pages

  • List Price: $14.95

  • Author: Arbor Day Foundation

  • Illustrator: Karina Helm

  • LCCN: 2008939816

  • ISBN: 978-0-9634657-5-7



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