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Art Lander’s Outdoors: Woody Plants of Kentucky and Tennessee great addition for amateur naturalists

A deer hunter finds an acorn in the woods and wants to know what species of oak it came from; a hiker encounters an unfamiliar shrub at trail side covered in distinctive foliage and colorful berries.

Even for experienced outdoor enthusiasts, the diversity of the natural world provides a continual source of amazement.

Identification of woody plants — trees, shrubs, and woody vines — is easy in the fall when these plants produce their fruit (seed), but becomes more difficult later in winter, after their leaves drop, or vegetation is killed back by frost.

Woody Plants of Kentucky and Tennessee: The Complete Winter Guide to Their Identification and Use, by Ronald L. Jones and B. Eugene Wofford, details the more than 400 species of native and non-native woody plants in our region. Published by the University Press of Kentucky, the 224-page, 7 x 10-inch book ($45), is richly illustrated with 630 color photos of buds and fruits, two maps, and 57 figures.

For centuries people have used trees, shrubs, and woody vines for food, medicines, clothing, in rituals, and in construction.

This detailed botanical resource provides accounts of 172 general and 457 species, 76 of which are non-native (17 percent).

Most of the species in the book have a much wider ranges than Kentucky and Tennessee. In fact, they are found in 14 states in the region, including the 11 that border Kentucky and/or Tennessee. The species accounts include useful information on Latin meanings, common names, habitats and distributions, and notes on toxicity, rarity, and wetland status.

Winter identification of woody plants can be a daunting exercise, but Jones and Wofford present clear and authoritative information that can help anyone spot these species in the wild.

For more outdoors news and information, see Art Lander’s Outdoors on KyForward.

This is a great addition to the library of any amateur naturalist, botanist, student, commercial landscaper, landowner, or outdoor enthusiast. To buy online click here.

Ronald L. Jones is foundation professor of biological sciences and curator of the herbarium at Eastern Kentucky University. He is the author of Plant Life of Kentucky: An Illustrated Guide to the Vascular Flora.

B. Eugene Wofford is research professor and director of the herbarium at the University of Tennessee. He is the author of Guide to the Vascular Plants of the Blue Ridge and coauthor of Guide to the Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines of Tennessee.

1Art Lander Jr.

Art Lander Jr. is outdoors editor for KyForward. He is a native Kentuckian, a graduate of Western Kentucky University and a life-long hunter, angler, gardener and nature enthusiast. He has worked as a newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and author and is a former staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine, editor of the annual Kentucky Hunting & Trapping Guide and Kentucky Spring Hunting Guide, and co-writer of the Kentucky Afield Outdoors newspaper column.

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