Posts Tagged ‘field guide’

Wild in the City Wild in the City: Fauna and Flora of Colorado Urban Spaces
Heidi Snyder & Dorothy DePaulo
Big Earth Publishing
November 2015

Wild in the City is a new book by
Heidi Snyder and Dorothy DePaulo. It is an urban field guide to the sights and sounds of Colorado’s Front Range. For those of us who do not live in Colorado, it is a fine example of what an urban field guide can be.

What makes this book special are the everyday discoveries and surprises the authors share with readers. Without their personal comments, the 91 species descriptions would be similar to the kind of information we’re accustomed to seeing in field guides. Because Heidi and Dorothy share their experiences as city-dwelling naturalists, Wild in the City is more than a regional resource, it is an invitation to explore the suburbs.

Complementing the inviting text are the authors’ true-to-life colored pencil paintings. Both authors are signature members of the Colored Pencil Society of America and have exhibited their work in many international exhibitions. Their colored pencil paintings are so engaging, you feel as if you could fall into them. Wild in the City is not packaged with sound, but if it were, we would hear waves lapping at the edge of a stream, hear the splashing sound water makes when ducks swim, and hear the rustling of wind through cattails. On page 103, we would definitely hear the song of the Black-capped Chickadee. It would sound something like this (click “Typical voice”).

Here is a small sample of the flora and fauna featured in Wild in the City, plus a small tantalizing fact about each plant and animal:

Cottonwood Tree
The “cotton” seed production of this species may become a new source of biofuel.

Ring-billed Gull
The plumage of this species was once used to make ladies’ hats.

Northern Leopard Frog & Water Lilies
This species of frog was once collected by the food industry (frog legs).

Northern Leopard Frog and Water Lilies, ©2015 Dorothy DePaulo, all rights reserved

Northern Leopard Frog and Water Lilies, ©2015 Dorothy DePaulo, all rights reserved

Quaking Aspen

The wood from this tree has been used to make chopsticks.

American Avocet
Day-old avocets can walk, swim and dive.

White Ash
A favorite wood to use for baseball bats.


Want to learn more?

Get Wild in the City!

You might also like:

The origin of botanical field guides


In 2014 Dorothy DePaulo and Heidi Snyder were awarded the Julius I. Brown Grant by the American Society of Botanical Artists. Wild in the City: Fauna & Flora of Colorado Urban Spaces was made possible in part by a grant from the American Society of Botanical Artists. (More about ASBA grants)

ArtPlantae is an affiliate of IndieBound and a supporter of independent bookstores. A small portion of each online purchase at IndieBound supports ArtPlantae’s InterpretPlants program.

Read Full Post »

There are many apps on the market that enable naturalists to explore the great outdoors without carrying a backpack full of books. Even large traditional references such as The Jepson Manual: Vascular Plants of California are now available as easy-to-carry ebooks.

What type of interactive field guides or apps have you used to learn about plants? Did you find them to be user-friendly or simply too frustrating to use?

Share your experiences below in the Comment box.

More Tips & Tools

Read Full Post »

cover12Botanical artist Wendy Hollender and clinical herbalist Dina Falconi have created a cookbook that is also an illustrated field guide to wild plants. They have completed three years of writing, drawing, designing and recipe testing and are now ready to self-publish their book!

Five days ago they launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for production and printing expenses. Autographed first edition copies of their new book are available for only $38. This new title is expected to ship in June. It will be a hardcover book with an estimated 210 pages and 64 color pages. Visit Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook to view pages from this wonderful new cookbook.

As of this morning, they have 237 backers and have raised 58% of the project goal. Their project will be funded only if they reach their funding goal by Sunday March 10, 2013 at 12 pm EDT.

Would you like to help Dina and Wendy publish their informative cookbook and illustrated field guide? Contributions begin at $1.

Visit their Kickstarter page to learn more.


Botanical Drawing in Color

Read Full Post »

Our conversation with book artist, Shawn Sheehy continues…

: You created a pop-up field guide of North American wildflowers highlighting twelve genera and twelve plant families. Where did the idea for a field guide originate? Why did you decide upon these specific plants for the field guide?

Shawn: I first developed these studies as content for my wildflowers workshop, which I launched in the interest of reaching workshop populations outside of the book arts community. Several months later I bound them together into the field guide–and thought it would be fun (and add literary value) to add additional context to the blooms by writing and including the essay on the “Language of Flowers.”

Read More

Read Full Post »

Swamp Mallow, courtesy of the Arnold Arboretum

From Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide to The Curious Naturalist magazine, from the Garden in the Woods in Framingham to the Missouri Botanical Gardens tropical rainforest exhibit,
Gordon Morrison has illuminated the natural world for over four decades. A retrospective of his work is now on view at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston.

A Natural Curiosity: A Retrospective of Images by Gordon Morrison is a look at his botanical work, highlighting the best of the thousands of illustrations he has created for education and conservation organizations.

This exhibition includes illustrations from Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide (1977), a book that is still in use and praised by many experts. Morrison’s illustrations, combined with a novel key system, made identifying wildflowers in the eastern United States simpler than ever before.

Original plates from the Peterson Field Guide to Forests series, Gordon’s own children’s book series; the Birds In The Garden series and the Native American series, both for Horticulture magazine, as well as interpretive panels completed for the New England Wildflower Society and the Missouri Botanical Gardens will also be on view.

Morrison’s work appears regularly in Mass Audubon’s Sanctuary magazine and in a variety of field guides and other natural history publications.

A Natural Curiosity: A Retrospective of Images by Gordon Morrison will be on view at the Arnold Arboretum Hunnewell Visitor Center through July 1, 2012. Visitor center hours are Monday-Friday (9 AM – 4 PM), Saturday (10 AM – 4 PM) and Sunday (12-4 PM).

You’re Invited!

You are invited to take part in a conversation

Trees for Nell, courtesy of the Arnold Arboretum

with Gordon Morrison. An Artist Talk with Mr. Morrison will be held at the Arnold Arboretum on Wednesday,
June 27, 2012 from 7:00-8:30 PM. Registration is requested for this FREE event. To register, click here.

You may also enjoy:

Read Full Post »

When we pick up a field guide, we make a lot of assumptions about its accuracy and take for granted it will tell us what we want to know. Even field guides we have never seen before seem familiar because they have that format we’ve come to expect — species names supported by descriptive text, backed up by an image confirming the accuracy of our observation.

Field guides are important tools and now that some come in e-book format, they are even easier to carry into the field.

Historians do not consider field guides to be scholarly texts, so the study of natural history books as identification tools has not been an area of special focus (Scharf, 2009). This makes Identification Keys, the “Natural Method,” and the Development of Plant Identification Manuals by Sara T. Scharf a particularly valuable reference.

It is easy to imagine modern botanical field guides evolving from early herbals, but according to Scharf (2009), herbals did not influence the development of field guides as much as the simpler, sparsely illustrated texts of the 18th century. These early texts lacked the visual appeal of herbals because botanists did not have money to hire illustrators (Scharf, 2009). Images created with woodcuts were too crude for botanists to use and copperplate engravings were too expensive, so Scharf (2009) says botanists had to make a choice — create illustrated books only the wealthy could afford or create instructional books in large quantities for amateurs and students and sell them at an affordable price. Botanists chose to create books for a general audience. What made these books predecessors to modern field guides was how they were organized.

Today we have the luxury of having botanists sort out a way for us to think about plants. But in the 18th century, the same level of organization did not exist. Plants were being discovered and described at a rapid pace and there were conflicting views about how plants should be organized (Scharf, 2009). Should they be organized in a “natural” way by grouping similar plants together or should an “artificial” organization be created by sorting specimens in some other way? Scharf (2009) tells interesting stories about several 18th-century botanists and the identification schemes they created. While these botanists made significant contributions to the field of botany, it was teachers in post-Revolutionary France who created the format of the modern field guide (Scharf, 2009). After the Revolution, botany became a required subject in school and teachers had to sort through existing identification systems to figure out how to satisfy this new requirement and how to teach botany to students who did not know Latin and whose lives had been interrupted by a revolution (Scharf, 2009). Seeing the flaws in each identification system, some teachers took it upon themselves to create books composed of a combination of systems that would be easy for students to use (Scharf, 2009). Their mixing of a dichotomous key (“artificial” system) with a broad grouping of similar plants (“natural” system) and an alphabetical index so users could look things up, laid the groundwork for the field guides we use today (Scharf, 2009).

The French were the first to create field guides for plants, with the first guide being created in 1803 by Canon Francois-Noel-Alexandre Dubois (Scharf, 2009). English botanists did not use field guides for another 20 years (Scharf, 2009). They were faithful to Linnaeus’ classification system and did not combine systems until after the death of Sir James Edward Smith, the President of the Linnaean Society in London and a staunch advocate for Linnaeus’ system (Scharf, 2009). It wasn’t until botanist John Lindley created introductory botany texts for his students that a “field guide” was written in English; they were normally written in Latin (Scharf, 2009). Lindley wrote his chapter about plant systematics using the format of French field guides and included a plant key, a section about plants arranged in the natural method, and an alphabetical index (Scharf, 2009).

To learn much more about the classification systems of 18th-century botanists, how each botanist contributed to the format of modern field guides, and how botanical field guides influenced guides to animals, obtain a copy of Identification Keys, the “Natural Method,” and the Development of Plant Identification Manuals at your local college library or purchase this paper online from the publisher ($34.95).

Literature Cited

Scharf, Sara T. 2009. Identification keys, the “natural method,” and the development of plant identification manuals. Journal of the History of Biology.
42: 73-117

Also See:

Read Full Post »

Does she use the Butterfly Collection app for iPhone?

How about the electronic field guide by LeafSnap?

What are oracle cards?

Find out here!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: