REFERENCE

Grasses, Sedges, Rushes: An Identification Guide

Yale. Aug. 2020. 272p. ISBN 9780300236774. pap. $22. REF
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A classic in the nature field-guide genre gets refreshed 41 years after original publication. Readers familiar with the older book will be pleased to know that Brown’s (Weeds in Winter) labeled drawings still provide apt instruction and that its general organization by plants’ visual similarity remains, as do its other identification tools. Likewise, distribution of plant species again includes Northeastern and some Midwestern states. So what’s changed? Most notably, Brown has a coauthor in Elliman (Wildflowers of New England), and the book now features color photographs, plant common names, updated scientific ones, expanded general notes, and a few new species (totaling 141). Identification can be tricky, but the authors take special care with their intended audience of novices—decision trees, glossaries, diagrammatic explanation of grasses’ tiny flowers, and a brief introduction to the ecology and history of American grasslands all provide paths into a complex subject. There are memorable field-drawn diagnostics and homespun observations offered for many species: The difference between tussock sedge and broom-like sedge, for example, is that the latter is “more stable for jumping.”
VERDICT The question is not whether or not selectors should purchase (they should); it’s where to shelve it (reference or circulating?). Probably the latter

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