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Old 01-23-2006, 11:47 PM
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Plant Identification

Hello everyone,
Haven't been able to post much lately because I have been slammed to the walls with springtime approaching rapidly. I am looking for a really good plant and tree identification book, and where it can be purchased. I have my good ol' Great Plant Guide from the American Horticultural Society, but I need more than that, and the internet just has to darn many to chose from. I would like to here from some other professionals what they like to use.
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Old 01-24-2006, 06:24 AM
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agla is a jewel in the rough agla is a jewel in the rough agla is a jewel in the rough agla is a jewel in the rough
"Manual of Woody Plants" by William Dirr has pretty much been the academic standard for well over 20 years.
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Old 01-24-2006, 09:03 AM
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It's Michael Dirr, not William (brain fart, agla?), and yes, that's the bible for us plant geeks. You can't go wrong with that book for woody plants. Pick up "Herbaceous Perennials" by Alan Armitage, as well for the weedy stuff
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Old 01-24-2006, 12:09 PM
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agla is a jewel in the rough agla is a jewel in the rough agla is a jewel in the rough agla is a jewel in the rough
Yup.
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Old 01-24-2006, 05:21 PM
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invest in Horticopia CD ROM set
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Old 01-24-2006, 05:30 PM
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I agree with agla and trees that Dirr's Manual (6th edition) is an essential plant identification tool, but I haven't found it to be enough.

If you really want to be able to "ball-park" i.d. any plant that you come across in your horticultural adventures, I've found it's really useful to develop some sense of how a plant identification key works, and what the Basic terms used in a key mean mean. The Latin can get pretty thick pretty fast, but knowing how to distinguish between simple and compound leaves, opposite, alternate and whorled leaf arrangements, and some of the basic descriptive terms, pubescent and glabrous for example, will allow you to navigate a key successfully and get down to genus if not species.

The way I learned to do this was studying plants native to southern-eastern Wisconsin in their natural setting. My field guide for this was Peterson's "Eastern Trees, Shrubs and Vines". Once I had mastered using that key, I was able to tackle the more diverse herbaceous perennials found round here with another field guide.

Dirr also has a picture guide to Northern landscape species called "Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs" and there is a companion volume for more southern landcape staples. Both are beautiful coffee-table books worth the investment and can really help narrow possibilities in the field as you develop instant recognition.

There is also some great software available. We own Horticopia and use it to i.d. unfamiliar species and cultivars, as well as generate lists and ideas for possible plantings.

Finally, I should confess that I came to landscaping through a passion to know which Oak from which, and that the ability to identify plants off the cuff for potential clients is a great confidence booster for you and them. Nevertheless, I think it is a grossly overrated skill depending on what kind of landscape business you are in (more useful for maintenance than design/build). I would much prefer that I could bid better than I i.d. Oaks.
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Old 01-24-2006, 06:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by VoodooChile
that the ability to identify plants off the cuff for potential clients is a great confidence booster for you and them. Nevertheless, I think it is a grossly overrated skill depending on what kind of landscape business you are in (more useful for maintenance than design/build). I would much prefer that I could bid better than I i.d. Oaks.
Voodoo has said something that I agree with 100%. Once you get past the couple of hundred major plants that we use on a daily basis it is more important to know how to identify them, if you need to, than remembering what the are. I am probably the worse for remembering plant names but I know how to find out what it is in a big hurry. Also these days new cultivars are coming in and out of fashion so quickly that there is no way to keep up with it. Once you learn how to use plant keys you will identify plants quite easily. Also using google with the plants identifying features works quite well.
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Old 01-24-2006, 06:38 PM
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agla is a jewel in the rough agla is a jewel in the rough agla is a jewel in the rough agla is a jewel in the rough
I could not agree with Voodoo any more. It will do you a lot of good to learn those terms. I had them force fed to me in school. I learned woody plants in Maine in the winter - as in no leaves or flowers. All those terms and having to key things out from twigs and buds was a great learning experience.

Again, agreeing with Voodoo, knowing plant id very well is a great confidence booster (for you) and great confidence builder (for your clients). I am a big believer in the theory that a clients confidence in you by far outweighs low pricing and other marketing propaganda. Anything you can add to building that cofidence is going to help your sales and customer loyalty.
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Old 01-24-2006, 07:37 PM
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Ive been able to identify alot of the plants in the P.O.T.W. from ( The Random House Book Of PERENNIALS) VOL. 1 & 2
authors Roger Phillips & Martyn Rix
Good book and it has the plants in its natural location.
Being on the left coast we dont see alot of the plants on the right side of the nation.
Hope this helps. My 2 cents
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