Seeking a guide to Florida wildflowers

Annette & Scott Ranger ranger at
Mon Sep 2 10:47:46 EST 1996

James E. Taylor wrote:
> I'm looking for a field guide to Florida wildflowers - any suggestions?  Is
> there a better place to post this?
> James

This covers a big area floristically, from the northwestern panhandle
that is more like Alabama, Mississippie and Georgia, to the tropical
Florida Keys, below the frostline, but here are some suggestions:

Bell, C.R. & B.J. Taylor.  1982. Florida Wild Flowers and Roadside
Plants.  Laurel Hill Press, Chapel Hill, NC.  This is probably your best
bet, and is widely available in hard cover.  It has excellent color
photos with good to adequate species descriptions.  It has an unusual
key scheme to identify plants, but it works.  Bell is a coauthor of
Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas and is an outstanding

Duncan, W.H. & M.B. Duncan.  1987. The Smithsonian Guide to Seaside
Plants of the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts from Louisiana to Massachusetts,
Exclusive of Lower Peninsular Florida.  Smithsonian Institution Press,
Washington D.C.  Duncan is a retired botany professor from the U of
Georgia.  This is an outstanding, but expensive, paperback that will do
you well in northern Florida.

Luer, C.A.  1972.  The Native Orchids of Florida.  New York Botanical
Garden, NY.  This is the definitive work on Florida orchids, now
unfortunately out of print, but occasionally available.  It is an
expensive, folio-sized book with incredible photographs of every orchid
in the state, excellent text, botanical taxonomy.

Clewell, A.F.  1985.  Guide to the Vascular Plants of the Florida
Panhandle.  University Presses of Florida, Tallahassee.  This is a
technical botanical manual with comprehensive keys to all the vascular
plants of NW FL.  Being a "guide," there are now species descriptions,
and very few diagrams and drawings.  I use it a lot in SW Georgia.

Small, J.K.  1933.  Manual of the Souteastern Flora.  University of
North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill.  Long since out of print (very
unfortunate!!!) and nomenclature that is nearly hopeless to understand
unless you have an excellent synonymy (like Kartesz, J.A. 1994. A
Synonymized Checklist of the Vascular Plants of the United States,
Canada and Greenland. Timber Press, Portland, OR), Small covers ALL of
Florida with a very technical key.  Available in good university

As you wander FL, of course stop in State Park offices and see what they
have.  There are some pretty good "thumb-through" type guides
available.  If you head to the Everglades, make sure a stop at the
Visitor Center is first on your list for some of the "easy" books.

Hope you find this helpful.  I spend spring break on Key Largo each
year, and "try" to learn five new plants each trip.  In tropical
Florida, even the families are new to me!  And I know the botany of the
SE US very well.

Scott Ranger

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