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by Hope Ryden, photographed by Hope Ryden

Age Range: 10 - 12

Pub Date: March 19th, 2001
ISBN: 0-395-85814-3
Publisher: Clarion

A beautiful browsing book of wildflower photos and meandering reminiscences by the author of Wild Horses I Have Known (1999) and other books on nature. Ryden begins with skunk cabbage, one of the first plants to flower in spring, and continues with full-color photographs and brief descriptions of wildflowers encountered from March to November, ending with the familiar New England aster. The end flap indicates that she encountered many of the wildflowers in New York State, so it's to be assumed that many of these flowers are more typical of the eastern woodlands region of the East Coast, though ranges are not given. She provides a common and scientific name, as well as blooming time, and some intriguing details. For example, she notes the common blue violet reproduces three ways: pollen-bearing insects fertilize the showy flowers, a second type of less showy flower never opens but is self-fertile, and finally shoots sent up from its vast root system. Some opinions are personal, as when she voices her approval of purple loosestrife, the bane of environmentalists, "A plant so beautiful ought to be enjoyed." Sometimes she includes snippets of poetry, medicinal or Indian lore, how the plant got its name, or where it originated. Full-color photos appear one to a page, framed with wide, white borders, frequently showing dramatic close-ups of flower heads. Her introduction suggests ways for readers to observe wildflowers for themselves. While more useful for browsing than for research (there is no index), this is sure to be enjoyed by nature lovers and great for quick identification of something lovely. (bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-12)