Customer Review

45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars not all that useful ..., 4 Feb 2011
This review is from: Collins Tree Guide (Paperback)
So many people have said good things about this book that I finally decided to order it. I do not regret that I did, but I am disappointed. Why? The book has all the nice features others have mentioned (beautiful illustrations, accurate descriptions ...)but if I have to identify an unknown tree - which is why I bought the book - there is no key that speeds up the process. There is a lot of comparing similar illustrations, trying to see subtle differences, going back to the text comparing various descriptions, etc.; a very tedious process in the larger genera like the Firs, Pines, Oaks, Cherries... But the trouble starts earlier: If I am a novice at identifying trees, I will have to spend much time figuring out which genus I have before me. The pictorial keys only illustrate "some" genera, so I might miss the one before me and will have to be referred to the correct one (if I am lucky) by one of the notes in the "Compare" section of each species, or I may misinterpret the illustrations and end up with something totally wrong. It is easy to make this mistake because the illustrations only give relative size. So if I want to identify a Holm Oak for example, I am faced with some choice on page 16 (oval/ boat shaped leaves: evergreen) because I have no idea how relative size translates into absolute size. So, even trying to find the correct genus will in many instances not be possible without a lot of leafing through many pages. I find this totally frustrating and unnecessary. The book is therefore definitely not "the best available" guide for identification. The predecessor of this book, Alan Mitchell's "A Field Guide to the Trees of Britain and Northern Europe" contained some keys and they offered a most welcome shortcut to the result. My two-star rating reflects the poor practicability of the "Tree Guide" for its main purpose, namely identification. I can read good descriptions on-line, but I want the best possible help in naming a tree, which I don't get from this book. (If you read German you may use the keys in Roloff/ Baertels: Flora der Gehoelze as a most formidable help)
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 Jan 2012 17:55:39 GMT
MOT says:
interesting. I found the key extremely helpful.

Scale/size of the leaf was no issue for me. I never used leaf size as a key ID factor

The Deciduous tree key is perfect for me though. Dividing things by whether it has opposite leaves or alternate, then by shape. I almost always find what I am looking for. Having said that I have found coniferous plants a 'bit' harder to ID but I think that's to be expected.

Posted on 30 May 2012 21:04:08 BDT
Z Bishop says:
I agree with this review,the lack of a good key lets down in otherwise good book. Some more general discussion of tree ecology and history would also be welcome
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