Wildflowers of New England by Ted Elliman & the New England Wildflower Society


I am going slightly off topic today. I want to talk about a useful book I recently bought: Wildflowers of New England. And no, I am not getting paid for this. Personally, I think it is a great book. It does the one thing I want it to do in a field guide: identify stuff. More specifically, it identifies the stuff it says it does, and not much else. And that stuff is wildflowers in New England, so I don’t have to waste time looking at flowers (regardless of how pretty) from Florida or Idaho or God knows where else, nor do I have to worry about wasting time looking at frogs or bugs or whatever else lives here. Just flowers. Also, it generally only deals with low growing plants, not trees. Because there are field guides that deal with just trees as well.

There are sections that deal with how to use the book, habitats in New England and the various plant families these local plants belong to. But by and large, it just deals with identifying local flowers. So if you see a wildflower, just look it up and chances are it will be there. Though it will mention if the plant is introduced and where it is native to and what kind of habitat it lives in, no room is wasted on cultural aspects with the plants, recipes (if they are edible) or how important they are to local ecosystems. Just what it is. But then again, if you want to know more about the plant, that is what Google is for and it will give a wide range of links giving all sorts of details about these plants, and hopefully my blog will be among those links. But before you learn about the details of each plant, you gotta know what it is, and again, this book does it.

The field guide is divided into colors of the flowers, and then shape and structure of the flowers. So you see a red flower, you go to red flowers. It has three petals, you go to three petals. It 3 simple whorled leaves. You go to red flowers with three petals and simple whorled leaves. And Boom! There it is Red Trillium (AKA Wake-robin or Stinking Benjamin, with a name like that, I’m guessing it smells like ass) It gives a brief description and that it grows in moist deciduous and mixed forests.[i] I’m guessing you found that in the woods somewhere, if so that is your plant. Now if you want to know more, like how it got the name “Stinking Benjamin,” well, like I said earlier, Google is your friend.

The book covers almost every species of wildflower found in the region, though some very rare ones, or those maybe just found along the edges of the region, or perhaps some very recently introduced species might not be covered. Also, this only covers WILDflowers. Not Ornamentals. So if you see tulips or hydrnageas or something, they won’t be mentioned, because they don’t grow wild. Dandelions, Lady Slippers and Black-Eyed Susans? No problem, they grow wild, and doesn’t matter whether or not they are native.  Still, over 1000 species of plant are mentioned, so odds are you will find your plant. So get the book, ID your flower, and then google it, or you can contact me and I will research it and find out more about it.

[i] Elliman, Ted and Wildflower Society of New England “Wildflowers of New England” 2016 Timber Press Inc. Portland OR  pg 254


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