620 Wild Plants of North America: Fully Illustrated.


784 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-0-88977-214-4
DDC 581.97





Reviewed by George Bryant

George Bryant is an active field botanist and past-president of the Field Botanists of Ontario.


“An old fertile ditch replete with wildflowers is a wonderful place to spend a summery morning.” This introductory remark to a book on wildflowers clearly reflects the author’s love of wild plants and will resonate with many field botanists. Focussing on the three Prairie provinces and the American Midwest, this attractive book provides detailed studies of 620 vascular plant species from 89 families.

Although not intended as a regional flora guide (Manitoba alone has 1,640 plant species) nor, because of size, as a field guide, the book has many features which will endear it to readers. Innumerable exquisite illustrations, all drawn from living plants in the field, are the most attractive aspect of the book. All accounts of species, even weeds, are accompanied by excellent range maps covering the Northern Great Plains. New to this reviewer, but clearly of value, the accounts provide two Indices: 1) Native Prairie Restoration Priority and 2) Wildlife Use of Birds and Mammals. Each plant family is given a lovely introduction along with copious sketches (as an example, see Asteraceae). The book contains an encyclopedic glossary with many terms cross-referenced to illustrations. Odd and intriguing words such as laddering, verticillaster, and anther head are clarified. The book is also graced by a very extensive list of references, suggested websites, and excellent indices to both common and scientific names, the latter being quite current. As well, the letter-size pages with readable print make this a book hard to put down.

One minor disappointment is the lack of Global Ranking, which should have been easy to obtain. While the book provides very complete plant descriptions, there are no notes (e.g., why is Garden Atriplex (Atriplex hortensis), a widespread native species, so named?) Some readers may decry the lack of an identification key; however, keys only work well when almost all species in the territory are covered, not the case with this book.

Designed for both professional and amateur botanists, this book is excellent both as a botanical text and as a reference. It represents an important addition to a botanical library, even to an Ontarian.


Reaume, Tom., “620 Wild Plants of North America: Fully Illustrated.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 15, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/24789.