David Redhage offers this book review of The Sunflower Family, a new ID guide from the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT).
President’s Note: Book Review: The Sunflower Family
The Sunflower Family: A Guide to the Family Asteraceae in the Contiguous United States
Botanical Research Institute of Texas. 2019. 574 p.
I find that many of the flowers I try to identify as part of the pollinator program are from the sunflower family (Asteraceae). Many times, it can be confusing trying to identify these plants with a full-blown plant key or a simpler picture field guide.
This publication falls between the two. It breaks the Asteraceae family down by tribes, and provides a section on the key characteristics for each tribe. Once you identify the tribe, there is a color code allowing you to move to the correct section. Then, you turn pages looking for your plant, to drop down to the genus within each tribe.
The written material on each genus indicates how many species are found worldwide, how many are in the United States, and where the genus occurs in the United States, along with photos, a description, and comments. The book is heavy compared to most field guides, but the pages are printed on glossy paper, making the colors stand out.
The book is not cheap, at $45, but the large number of pages and print quality account for the cost. It is a different method of plant identification, and while I haven’t used it yet, it should prove helpful identifying plants found in the field.
I would not recommend it for someone looking for a general wildflower ID book. The link above will take you to the website with some example photos of pages from the book to help you decide whether it would be beneficial for you.