by the book

Our favorite book for identifying the birds visiting us, or those we see in the field, has long been Sibley’s Guide to Birds of North America. The carefully rendered illustrations make them easier to identify than any photograph. Now, after eight years of painstaking effort, David Allen Sibley has brought the same meticulous attention to detail to bear in a book on trees. It was Richard’s one request when asked what he would like for Christmas, and of course I was only too happy to oblige.



The book is, of course, a valuable field guide. What surprised me was the poetry in Sibley’s prose as he talks about trees.

Then there is this little gem, which found its way to me as a gift.



The first book by Paul Bonine of Xera Plants, its squareish format makes for a pleasing layout (close-up, dramatic photo on the right-hand page, descriptive text on the left). Oddly, I never went in for scary movies, but the noirish character of these plants really appeals to me. Take, for instance, the ‘Vampire’s dracula orchid’

…best known for their bizarre flowers. Three large petals or sepals are veined with black and white lines, each terminating in a long, midnight-black tail. The interior of the flower is no less sinister with yellow stripes that radiate from a central white to light pink pouch, reminiscent of a small coffin.

What fun!

7 thoughts on “by the book

  1. I just saw the Black Plants book today in real life. Wasn’t expecting it to be so small in size. It’s a gorgeous book though with gorgeous plants! Isn’t the cover stunning? My bro-in-law would love the trees book.

  2. I’m a convert to Sibley’s books. They’re much more visually pleasing and usually more useful than the Audubon and Peterson’s guides I used in the past.
    I bought myself the Black Plants book awhile ago. I like that small format. The Tropicalissmo book Loree recommended to me has that same nice layout, too.

  3. I guess it would be a good idea to state measurements when showing books. I always just size photos to fill the page, so it could be a shock to see the actual size of the Black Plants book. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

  4. Hi Ricki~~ I have a similar tree ID book. I like the leaf, bark, flower, fruit and bark closeups. Usually it’s just a tree in the distance with a few facts about where it grows. Black Plants looks like an exceedingly dangerous book for hort-a-holics like me. Such guilty pleasures.

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