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  • Field Guide to the Sedges of the Pacific Northwest
  • J Chris Whoag (bio)
Oregon State University Press, 121 The Valley Library, Corvallis, Oregon 97331; 2008, paperback US$ 35 (ISBN 978-0-87071-197-8), 6 × 9 inches, 650 color photographs, 163 color distribution maps, line drawings, 432 p.

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The Field Guide to the Sedges of the Pacific Northwest was written by the Carex Working Group (CWG), which is made up of Oregon botanists who work with sedges and other difficult-to-identify plant groups. The effort started in 1993 and was incorporated in 2002. The illustrated guide addresses all 163 species, subspecies, and varieties in the genus Carex that occur in Oregon and Washington, augmented by more than 650 color photographs, detailed drawings, identification keys, descriptions, and distribution maps. The guide includes information on ecology, ethnobotany, and morphology of sedges. It is intended as a resource for botanists, land managers, restoration ecologists, and plant enthusiasts.

This guide is a field vest–sized slick-covered book with vivid color photographs of 153 Carex species and 10 taxa. The photographs include close-ups of the perigynium and scale, the inflorescence, and the habit. Some of the species include photos of the habitat and line drawings of important distinguishing features. Each species page has a map of Oregon and Washington with locations marked as to where the species has been found.

Field Guide to the Sedges of the Pacific Northwest starts with a good introduction to sedges. A variety of subjects including diversity, ecology, use as forage, fire tolerance, seed dispersal, and seed germination are discussed. There is a great section on Carex and ethnobotany. The authors describe their rationale for the classification system they use in the Field Guide. One of the best sections is the one on Carex morphology, which describes the various parts of a sedge.

For each species, there are two pages, one that does a good job of listing the standard identifying features and the other displays the color photos. In addition to the standard identifying features, the authors have listed “Key Features” to help narrow down the search. Another nice aspect is what the authors call “Identification Tips.” In this section, the authors talk about the best identifying features, and they list the species that are similar and then what makes them different. Another section is called “Comments.” Here the authors discuss interesting traits of the species and refer to new research that helped to place the species in classifications other than where they might have traditionally been placed. They also discuss sightings and population trends as well as the plant's ability to withstand disturbance or its ability to prevent soil erosion. In the back of the book is an instructive piece titled “Sedges with Distinctive Traits or Habitats” in which the authors list definitive characteristics and which sedges actually have those characteristics. It is a quick way to narrow down the search for the name of that elusive species. [End Page 366]

Overall, the Field Guide to the Sedges of the Pacific Northwest is a well-written book that will be a handy resource for the identification of that unknown sedge. Heavy field use may cause the pages to separate from the binding; but the many identification hints will speed up the process of getting to the final species name (perhaps avoiding some of the wear and tear). The clarity of the photos will help to offset this problem as well. The color photos alone are worth the price of this book. [End Page 367]

J Chris Whoag

J Chris Hoag is a wetland plant ecologist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Aberdeen Plant Materials Center in Aberdeen, Idaho. He has worked on wetland and riparian vegetation communities for almost 30 years



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pp. 366-367
Launched on MUSE
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