[Tweeters] Re: PNW wildflower guides

Mark Egger m.egger at comcast.net
Tue Jun 17 19:11:23 PDT 2008

As an addendum to Randy & Wayne's comments, I'd like to provide a
cautionary note about the range maps in Turner & Gustafson (as well
as most other field guides). Though I highly recommend this book &
agree it is the most up to date & useful reference for beginning
botanists in our region, the range maps contain many inaccuracies and
are often misleading. They are based on county-level database
records, for which it is vital to remember the following points:

1. The data in the database is only as accurate as the original IDs,
many of which may be suspect.
2. A single, often very old record from a given county causes the
entire county to be shown as within the species' range.
3. That one record may be limited to a marginal corner of a very
large county lacking any other occurrences of that species and/or the
site may have long ago been destroyed by development, agriculture,
and/or noxious weeds, the bane of native plants and nesting prairie

So, while the range maps should not be disregarded and give some idea
of where a species probably DOESN'T occur, they should not be treated
as infallible.

That being said, if you like NW wildflowers, buy this excellent book
AND check out the Burke Museum web site listed below, which contains
thousands of well-curated, diagnostic, and often very beautiful
images of the flora of Washington state (for free!)


>I have at least a dozen wildflower guides that cover this area. I'd

>like to add my personal favorite to Wayne Weber's recommendations.

>It's the idiosyncratic "Trees, Shrubs, & Flowers to Know in British

>Columbia and Washington" by C.P. Lyons and Bill Merilees. It's now

>out of print, first published in the 1950s, and last published in an

>updated version in 1995, but available from used book stores and



>Lyons has more useful information about habitat and location than

>just about any other book (although Turner and Gustafson have county

>range maps that can be very helpful). Lyons has a knack for drawing

>your attention to useful identification characteristics. It has

>very useful line drawings, but the photos are quite small. Turner

>is the book to use for the latest botanical names and the best

>photos. But Lyons has given me the information I need in the field

>more times than I can count. It's particularly useful east of the

>Cascades, which many other books don't cover very well. I now

>usually carry both Turner and Lyons on field trips, and then use

>other books for further reference once I'm home. I also rely on the

>superb website maintained by the UW's Burke Museum:



>The most current comprehensive flora for west-side, wet-side plants

>is Kozloff's "Plants of Western Oregon, Washington, and British

>Columbia." It's excellent, but it's a hefty tome that won't find

>its way into your pack.


>Randy Smith

>Vashon Island


>Date: Mon, 16 Jun 2008 10:14:18 -0700

>From: "Wayne Weber" <contopus at telus.net>

>Subject: RE: [Tweeters] RFI Off Topic Wildflowers field Guide

>To: "DAWN BAILEY" <dawnsdog at rainierconnect.com>, "TWEETERS"

> <tweeters at u.washington.edu>

>Message-ID: <006001c8cfd4$69d32200$3d796600$@net>

>Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"


>Dawn and Tweeters,


>I would make two recommendations for a wildflower field guide for the

>Pacific Northwest:


>(1) Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest by Mark Turner and Phyllis

>Gustafson (Timber Press, 2006)


>(2) Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon

>(Lone Pine Publishing, 1994)


>These are both outstanding guides. I have both, and I use them constantly.


>The Turner & Gustafson book covers more species (1220 are illustrated), and

>covers a wider area-all of Washington and Oregon, plus southern BC and

>northern California. However, it omits trees, most grasses and sedges,

>mosses, liverworts, and lichens, all of which get a lot of attention in

>Pojar & MacKinnon. The latter book covers areas west of the Coast and

>Cascade Mountains from south-central Alaska south to the Oregon-California

>border, but does not cover eastern Washington or Oregon at all.


>There are lots of other books covering more restricted areas which are very

>useful, e.g. "Wild Plants of the San Juan Islands", "Wildflowers of the

>Columbia Gorge", "Wildflowers of the Western Cascades", etc. However, the

>above two books, in my opinion, are the most useful over a wide area of the

>Pacific Northwest. Of course, you will also need a detailed flora such as

>"Flora of the Pacific Northwest", or a couple of helpful botanist friends,

>to help you identify the many species that aren't covered in those two




>Wayne C. Weber


>Delta, BC


>contopus at telus.net


Mark Egger
Seattle, WA
mailto:m.egger at comcast.net

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