Book Recommendations for Budding Botanists
The list below is intended for someone eager to learn the plants of region (especially for a job where identification is required). They are listed by type and in order of recommendation.
In most cases more than one taxonomic key can greatly ease identification and minimize frustration. Different keys emphasize different characteristics. The smaller the focus of the key (region, habitat type, plant type) the more specific the description and generally the easier to key a plant.
The above said, the on-line version of the Michigan Flora is an excellent resource once you become familiar with using it.
General Flora (for Michigan)
Field Manual of Michigan Flora -2012
by Edward G. Voss and Anton A. Reznicek
MUST BUY, taxonomic key also available on-line (updated and with pictures)! Technical flora of all of Michigan, uses indentation so you can go backwards, there are no images of plants; but the on-line version provides both photographs and quasi-descriptions of every plant.
Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual: ... -1998
by Holmgren, Holmgren & Gleason
Should Buy (if you can find it –out of print), line drawing book, the names are old, but it includes all the plant species in Northeastern North America. It allows you to quickly look at all the members of a taxon when you are pretty sure of the genus or family.
Trees of Michigan: Including Tall Shrubs -2006
by Linda J. Kershaw
MUST BUY (if you can find it at a reasonable prince –out of print), photo book with excellent descriptions and some simplified yet effective keys, it is the best tree book for Michigan.
Aquatic and Wetland Plants of Northeastern North America, Volume I: Dicots… -2006
by Crow & Hellquist
If you are focusing on wetlands, then it is a MUST BUY. Excellent taxonomic key focused on non-flower characters and most couplets refer to a well labeled figure (also get Chadde's Wetland plants of Michigan).
Wetland Plants of …
by Steve W Chadde
Taxonomic key, focused primarily on flora characters, it includes a drawing, description and geographic range of all species in Michigan. It is an excellent companion key but difficult to use for plants without a flower. There are several editions, they are equally useful.
Aquatic Plants of the Upper Midwest: A photographic field guide … -2011
by Paul M. Skawinski
Excellent photo book of most submergents in Michigan. Helpful descriptions and up-close photographs help narrow down or confirm the species. Buy it through the University of Wisconsin Extension.
Through the Looking Glass: A Field Guide to Aquatic Plants -1997
by Borman, Korth, & Temte
Line drawing book, very good key characteristics and comparisons of most common submerged plants. Buy it through the University of Wisconsin Extension.
How to Know the Aquatic Plants -multiple old additions
by G.W. Prescott
Unusual book because it includes some common aquatic mosses and macro-algae, thus it can be a useful addition. Prescott's How to Know the Freshwater Algae overlaps with a section on macro-algae.
A vegetative key to the genera of submersed and floating aquatic vascular plants of Michigan -1967
by Edward G. Voss
Short key available On-line through The Great Lakes Botanist (formerly The Michigan Botanist).
The Sunflower family in the upper Midwest -2001
by Antonio & Masi
Photo book with brief descriptions, keys and distribution maps of all Asteraceace. Strongly recommended if you can find a copy at a reasonable price (out of print).
The Sunflower Family: A Guide to the Family Asteraceae in the Contiguous United States -2019
by Richard Spellenberg
Photo book with excellent descriptions of all species in the contiguous United States organized by tribe. Given the range it is a bit daunting, but a good reference to confirm proper identification.