This week I’m sharing a few of my favorite resources for identifying plants and learning more about them. Most of these should be very beginner-friendly.
I love this book because of the beautiful full-color illustrations that David Sibley is famous for. It works well for beginners because it is so visual and includes not only the native trees of North America, but also covers much of the wide variety of landscaping trees commonly used. So you’ll be able to walk around your city neighborhood and identify trees as easily as if you were in a forest. The trees are organized by family, so it’s a good tool for beginning to learn some plant taxonomy too.
This site, run by the University of Texas at Austin, is great for looking up a plant once you know its name and finding photos and information on growing conditions. It’s also a really cool way to get new ideas for what to plant in your garden, because you can search by features like size, bloom time or color, moisture tolerance, and growing regions.
This is a huge database with information on every plant species known to occur in the U.S. You can search by common name too, so although it looks quite technical, beginners can find helpful information here too. One of my usual reasons to use this database is to find standardized information on current accepted taxonomic classifications, but I also really like the range maps provided for each species. They show where species are known to occur natively or naturalized, down to the county level. the photos are not as extensive and high quality as those from Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, but each plant usually at least has a botanical illustration, and many include photos of seeds, which are not as readily available elsewhere.