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Weeds of the West
Featuring more than 900 color photographs!
From the Western Society of Weed Science
9th Edition. Revised 2004.
Reviewed by Thomas J. Elpel
You might not think about it when you are shopping for a book on wildflower identification, but there is a natural tendency for authors and publishers to focus on the most strikingly beautiful wildflowers, since that makes the most picturesque, most sellable book. As a result, many of the most common "weedy" plants are left out of the popular books, which doesn't help much when you are trying to identify one of them.
With more than 900 color photos, Weeds of the West is far and away the most comprehensive picture guide ever compiled on western weeds. The book covers non-native species that have become naturalized or invasive in western North America, including some grasses, as well as many native species that may be poisonous or have weedy tendencies.
A "weed," for the purposes of this book, would be pretty much anything that might grow where isn't wanted, which is a highly subjective and antiquated way of looking at nature. True, there are legitimate concerns about invasive species corrupting native ecosystems, but this book retains the flavor as if it were originally written for land managers who wanted only the best forage plants possible and considered all other plants to be a nuisance. And yet, while the text briefly describes the undesirable traits of virtually every plant in the book, the quality of the pictures and layout suggests that writing the book wasn't a mere criminal line-up, but probably a labor of love for the weed scientists that wrote it.
Personally, I consider it one of the "must have" picture books for wildflower identification. Thankfully, it is organized by families, which makes it an ideal companion for working with my book, Botany in A Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification. Originally published in 1991, the Revised 9th Edition (2004) of Weeds of the West is a very worthwhile 640 pages long. ISBN: 0-941570-13-4. List Price: $45.00. Our Price $40.00.