#BookReview: Field Guide to Trees of Southern Africa

Authors: Braam van Wyk and Piet van Wyk
Editor: Struik Publishers

Identifying native trees has got to be one of the hardest hobbies to take on.

I became interested in tree identification on open vehicle bush adventures with avid and knowledgeable birders.

Many LBJs (Little Brown Jobs) would fly before I had a chance to identify them. The trees, helpfully, don’t fly away, they give you ample opportunity to observe them and learn.

There are many varied books written about our local trees. It makes sense to start with a simple guide with strong visuals, focusing a lot on the shape of the tree rather than getting too technical.

However, every tree fanatic needs a field guide, and The Field Guide to Trees of Southern Africa by Braam van Wyk and Piet van Wyk was written with the lay reader in mind.

Species are divided into 43 groups based on leaf and stem characters, and illustrated with color photographs of the most easily identifiable parts of the plant.

Southern Africa has a rich variety of tree species with around 2,100 native species and over 100 naturalized exotic species, and this book describes and illustrates over 1,000 of them.

Fifteen years after the first edition of The Field Guide to Trees of Southern Africathis second edition has been published.

The new edition is greatly improved by a new 87-page section of photographs of complete trees, which many non-specialist users of the book had requested, which makes sense because identifying a whole tree from a leaf and a fruit or a flower is extremely difficult.

The distribution maps have been updated and the text revised and updated.


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