When I was in the sixth grade I had a seriously tough teacher who thought it her duty to bring us flourishing from grade school to the rigors of Jr. High by giving us massive research projects any first-year college student would have lost sleep over. One of these was a tree report that had my whole family traipsing through hill and dale, collecting leaves and identifying trees by common and Latin names. By report’s end, everyone knew the town’s single location for the osage orange and the lone gingko. I was a whiz at tree knowledge back then, but the sixth grade is long past, and I’ve forgotten just about everything. (Except the osage orange, the gingko, and their still elusive locations.) If there’s one thing I need to brush up on as a studying herbalist, it’s tree identification! The field guide Trees of Michigan by Linda Kershaw (Lone Pine Publishing) would have been a serious help when I was 12, but I probably need it even more today. Because Michigan is what one might call “leafy”.
Whether you live in Michigan or vacation here, one thing you’ve no doubt noticed: We’ve got trees! Lots of them. Even in urban areas, trees abound. And if you’ve ever been lucky enough to enjoy Michigan as a camping destination, being surrounded by tall and stately oaks, fragrant pines, and majestic maples, perhaps you’ve wondered if you were missing out on not being able to identify one from the other. Trees of Michigan can certainly help you out in finding deeper appreciation for these large and majestic beings who share our space every day.
My new favorite tree guide, Trees of Michigan, is a beatiful book made for carrying along on your woodland journeys. The photos are clear and large, the book’s organization makes it easy for even novice reference, and handy sketches of tree shapes add to the identification aid. Photos of fruits, leaves, seeds, etc. provide even more information on each species, and text gives helpful descriptions, trivia, habitat, origin, alternate names and more still. I truly love this guide and have spent a lot of time with my nose in it, as the trees around me come into leaf. My 3 1/2-year-old and I were able to identify some neighborhood trees by collecting seed pods and dry leaves which made it through the March winds after a recent walk. We compared them to photos in the book, and my son was very excited to learn his puffy round discovery was actually part of a local sycamore. (It’s on the counter still; he wants to plant it.)
This enjoyable book is a great reference, whether you live or vacation in Michigan. Indeed, anyone who spends time within the state will find their time here much more “nature-centric” if they grab a copy of Trees of Michigan, lace up their hiking boots, and hit the trails. Because you ain’t seen nothing yet if you haven’t spent time in Michiganian woods!