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Newcomb's Wildflower Guide: An Ingenious New Key System for Quick, Positive Field Identification of Wildflowers, Flowering Shrubs and Vines Paperback – 31 Dec 1991

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4.4 out of 5 stars 165 reviews from the U.S.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.4 out of 5 stars 165 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love the identification system which quickly filters your "search results" ... 13 Jun. 2015
By Mark S. - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have a stack of wildflower guides but I almost always pull this one out first. I love the identification system which quickly filters your "search results" to just one or two pages. I dislike flipping through pages and pages the way many other guides typically force you to do. I find the key pretty easy to use with just a little bit of botanical terminology.

I dearly wish a guide like this existed for the central U.S. Wildflower identification can be challenging, for us amateurs, but we have a wealth of print and electronic resources available and I use them all. This guide is not perfect. The coverage area is limited, and descriptions for some species are a bit thin, but if you're in region covered by this guide, and you don't need lots of pretty pictures in your field guide, this one belongs in your arsenal.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Newcomb's Wildflower Guide 28 July 2012
By Paddler - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have a BS degree in biology (1969) and, at one time, was familiar with the old dichotomous key method of identifying plants. Since then, I have forgotten much of the vocabulary and descriptive nuances needed to use one of those keys. A friend recommended Newcomb's Wildflower Guide. She said it uses a different method to key an identification. I ordered a copy from Amazon. My friend was correct; it does use a different method - a much simpler and less ambiguous method. I have even been able to use this book to identify plants by remembering the shapes of their leaves.

I bought the softcover edition. It seems rugged enough to stand field use and is a good size to slip into a day pack or a cargo pocket in a pair of hiking pants.

It has been said that, if all you know is the name of something, you know nothing. Not true. Knowing the name allows you to find out everythig else.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE Definitive Guide for the NE Quadrant of the United States 3 Jun. 2009
By Daniel L. Edelen - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Newcomb's Wildflower Guide has been around for quite some time and is still a popular seller. Why? Because no one has developed a wildflower guide that works better. If you live in the area bounded on the west by Wisconsin and the south by Tennessee, this is the finest guide you'll find.

The intro to the book includes detailed descriptions of plant physiology to help users understand the basic rules used to distinguish wildflower forms. Employing a five-question user query system, the guide uses the process of elimination based on forms to direct users to one or two pages that contain the correct plant. The questions are primarily based on the number of petals in the flowers, shape of the flowers, types of flower heads, flower colors, and arrangement of leaves and their shapes. The pages that contain the desired wildflower give further descriptions of the flower, along with the formal (and informal) name, Latin name, growing location and environment, blooming season, plant size, and the plant family name.


+ The query system really works.

+ The beautiful line illustrations (some in color) simplify the look of the plant for users, resulting in more accurate identification than photographs.

+ The guide is a convenient size for carrying into the field.

+ A ruler is included on the opening page, handy for checking sizes.

+ Because it is so accurate when used properly, it can replace the need for multiple guides, making it an outstanding value.


- The query system is only as good as a user's understanding of the wildflower form definitions laid out in the "Explanation of Basic Terms" section of the guide. If the user confuses the terms or encounters a plant that seems to straddle forms, the query system becomes more hit or miss.

- Users in parts of the United States outside the northeast quadrant are out of luck because the guide does not cover the entire country (though it doesn't claim to).

- The guide has a standard trade paperback cover, making it less durable than the reinforced, plasticized covers found on other field guides.

Once a user has used the guide for a while, it becomes second nature. Anyone can feel like a professional botanist in no time. For those who are serious about wildflower identification, Newcomb's is THE guide to own.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Resource 11 May 2017
By Nancy - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Absolute must if you are into wildflower identification
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I received a different edition 11 Oct. 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an amazing book. It is useful for people new to plant identification and, as my professor has informed me, is also used by professionals in the field. The illustrations, glossary, and dichotomous key - like method are great.

The book I received is not the same edition shown in the picture. The image is of the newer blue cover, and I received the yellow edition from the 70's. The cover is a little bent and the pages a tiny bit wavy, but it's totally useable and I don't mind at all.
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