Book Review: Trees of Western North America

Trees of W N Amerk10216Trees of Western North America, by Richard Spellenberg, Christopher J. Earle, and Gil Nelson, Princeton University Press (, 2014, 560 pages, $29.95

In this latest installment in the Princeton Field Guides series, botanists and ecologists Richard Spellenberg, Christopher J. Earle, and Gil Nelson have introduced two new guides to the trees of North America, Trees of Western North America (reviewed here) and its companion guide, Trees of Eastern North America.

With Trees of Western North America, users will have at their fingertips a guide to the identification of 630 tree species accompanied by detailed color paintings, regional interstate range maps, and a Quick ID that summarizes key tree characteristics. For every species, the illustrations depict tree form, branches and twigs, leaves, fruits, flowers, and bark. Given the number of trees tackled here, the text is understandably brief but thorough, drilling down to the bare essentials. Still, most accounts close with notes describing any particulars that make each species unique: conservation status, varieties, hybrids, history. Whether you’re faced with a saguaro or a sequoia, a hawthorn or a hemlock, this easy guide will surely get you to the birch in time.

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