- Flora of North Dakota: Checklist by Alexey Shipunov
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Flora of North Dakota contains a comprehensive list of 1651 plant species documented to occur in North Dakota. Appendix B contains an additional 38 species that occur in the states and Canadian provinces surrounding North Dakota, but have not been documented in North Dakota. A section called Important Notes serves as a user’s guide and provides a limited amount of information in bullet form on the overall approach to putting together this reference work. I suspect a portion of the readership would appreciate a more detailed description of the methods used to collect the information. The author describes the use of color codes to designate flowers, cones, or spore-bearing organs, but no key is provided to describe what the colored boxes by each species actually means. The hypertext in the Table of Contents (list of 121 families arranged alphabetically) along with the searchable feature of the PDF make the book very user friendly. A click on a family name will take the reader directly to that section. Although the book was not designed to be an identification tool, Appendix A contains a short key to families and, as in the Table of Contents, the names are hypertext so a click on the name will take you to the respective location. A statewide county map, along with a list of counties, is provided for each species to illustrate its distribution in North Dakota. A list of the sources used to document the geographic distribution of each species is also provided. Colored text is used to highlight rare and endangered species (red text) and state-listed noxious weeds (blue). In future versions, I hope the author will consider providing a definition of a rare species and using color coding to distinguish native from nonnative species. Most species are accompanied by high-quality color photographs, although the information contained in the legend above each photograph is technical and probably not well understood by a general user. Some species appear to have an overabundance of photographs. For example, curlycup gumweed (Grindelia squarrosa), a very common plant, has 15 color photographs, several of which appear to be duplicates. The large number of photographs likely explains the very large size of the document (about 61,000 KB [60+ Mb]) with a correspondingly long download time, even with a high-speed connection. Overall, I think the book will appeal to a wide variety of audiences, especially for users such as myself who are very interested in plant diversity but who are not plant taxonomists. Flora of North Dakota is clearly a product of considerable dedication and hard work and will serve as a valuable resource for botanists and non-botanists alike. [End Page 267]
Jack L Butler is Research Ecologist with the USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station at the Forest and Grassland Research Laboratory in Rapid City, South Dakota.