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Forest and Shade Trees of Iowa

Peter J. van der Linden

Publication Year: 2011

Back in print at last in a third edition, the classic Forest and Shade Trees of Iowa now has a wealth of full-color photographs and updated, reorganized information that will please both new and returning readers.
Part 1 of this guide focuses on identification, with user-friendly keys to both summer and winter trees and illustrated descriptions of more than one hundred common species. The trees are arranged according to similarities in foliage; each entry includes a large scan of a leafy branch along with two or three smaller photos of buds, flowers, fruits, and winter twigs. The text contains a description of the species, its geographical distribution, and notes on how to distinguish it from similar species. Part 2 is divided into conifers and flowering trees and includes all trees native to Iowa, trees that are widely planted, invasive species, some less commonly planted trees, and tall native shrubs that might be mistaken for trees. The authors provide information about the natural history of individual trees, their ecological requirements, pests and diseases that affect them, and their usefulness for such different purposes as windbreaks, landscaping, wildlife plantings, fuel, lumber, and food. Following these two main parts, three shorter sections describe the planting and care of trees, Iowa’s forest communities, and good places to see trees in the state; a glossary and a bibliography are also included.
A complete guide to Iowa’s trees, both native and introduced, full of hundreds of color photos, this new edition of Forest and Shade Trees of Iowa will be immensely useful to arborists, foresters, horticulturists, landscape architects, gardeners, and all Iowans and midwesterners who appreciate the beauty and value of trees and want to learn more about them.


Published by: University of Iowa Press

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pp. vii

We are especially thankful for the inspirational work of the late botanist and artist Anna Gardner. Her pioneering use of digital scanning to capture tree characteristics in intimate detail helped thousands of dendrology students become better biologists and provided the basic plan for the plates in this book. Many of Anna’s original, beautifully informative scanned images are included...

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About the Photographs

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pp. ix

Trees provide endless fascination as photographic subjects. The form, color, texture, and intricate patterns of their leaves, flowers, fruits, branches, and trunks lend themselves well to artistic expression as well as relevance to species identification and ecological function. The images in this book were captured in several ways...

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Introduction to the Third Edition

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pp. xi-xii

This book is a guide to Iowa’s trees, both native and introduced. Readers of our first two editions will find this one looks much different, with color photos and the information organized in a new way. There are two main parts, dealing separately with tree identification and the natural history and uses of trees. Following these are shorter chapters describing the planting and care of...

Part 1: Identifying Iowa’s Trees

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Identifying Trees

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pp. 3-14

One way is to compare your tree with the photos in this book, checking page by page until you find a match. To make your search easier, we have arranged the trees in groups based upon similarities in leaves. To get started, go to page 57 and select the appropriate group. When you think you’ve found the right species, be sure to read the entire description on that page. Verify that...

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Summer Keys to Iowa’s Trees

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pp. 15-39

The following key includes all trees native to Iowa, except for a few uncommon species of hawthorns, and those introduced trees important in landscaping and conservation. Large native and naturalized shrubs that might be mistaken for tree saplings have also been included. When a genus has only one or two species in Iowa, those species are included in the main body of the...

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Winter Keys to Iowa’s Trees

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pp. 41-56

The following key identifies most species you are likely to encounter in Iowa. Hawthorns, dogwoods, apples, most crabapples and pears, lilacs, and lindens (basswoods) are not keyed to species because accurate identification requires leaves, fruits, and in some cases flowers. Several large native shrubs that are common in the woodland understory and might be mistaken for tree...

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Descriptions of Tree Species

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pp. 57-263

One species is illustrated and described on each set of facing pages. Illustrations include leaves, buds, winter twigs, flowers, fruits, and, where it is especially distinctive, bark. The text includes a description of the species, notes on how to distinguish it from similar trees, and a description of its geographical distribution in Iowa. Also included are references to part 2, where there...

Part 2: The Natural History and Uses of Iowa’s Trees

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pp. 267-284

Trees that have needlelike leaves and regular whorls of branches, with the trunk running straight and unforked to the top of the crown, are often called evergreens, although some lose their leaves in autumn and are not really “ever green.” Because these trees produce their pollen and seeds in cones, botanists prefer to call them conifers, which is Latin for “cone-bearing.” Both the...

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Flowering Trees

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pp. 285-378

Flowering trees, a much larger group than the conifers, account for most of the tree species native to Iowa. These trees provide shade for our homes, fuel for our fireplaces, lumber for our furniture, and much of our locally grown fruit. Their colorful blossoms liven the landscape in spring, and their turning leaves are much admired in autumn...

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Promising Trees for Iowa

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pp. 379-381

Native species should always be the backbone of a community forest, but there are trees from other parts of the world that grow well here and add variety to our landscapes. A few of these, such as the blue spruce and Norway maple, have been so widely planted that they are perhaps too familiar. Others, such as the Austrian and Scots pines, were much planted in the past but have...

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Part 3: Growing Trees in Iowa

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pp. 383-397

The recommendations in this section can serve as a general guide, but be sure to consult those who are experienced in your locale. Arborists, nurseries, garden centers, Trees Forever, the Iowa Cooperative Extension Service, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources can all be helpful...

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Part 4: Iowa’s Forests

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pp. 399-408

Everywhere you go in Iowa, the climate is moist enough to support forest. If you abandon any tract of land today, it will eventually be covered with young trees. Why then was most of Iowa covered with prairie when European Americans arrived? To find the answer, we must go far back in history to a time when natural forces, rather than people, shaped the land...

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Part 5: Good Places to See Trees in Iowa

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pp. 409-414

Where can you go to see a variety of trees, something more than the common species that line our streets and shade our houses? Arboretums and botanical gardens are especially good places to visit because their collections are diverse and the trees are usually labeled. Other good places are state and local parks, college campuses, and even cemeteries. Following are a few sites...


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pp. 415-418


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pp. 419-426


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pp. 427-432

E-ISBN-13: 9781587299957
Print-ISBN-13: 9781587299940

Publication Year: 2011