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Posted October 18, 2013
This is one of several books I bought for ID prairie veg. It isn't as useful for ID as I thought it would be from the book description because (1) the line drawings are more general in nature; (2) written descriptions don't indicate "peculiarities" that would distinguish i.e., one aster from another, this would need to be inferred. However the eco notes, describing habitat, may help eliminate species.
I think the books with photos at least 3" x 5" ("Tallgrass Prairie Wildflowers, A Falcon Field Guide, A Nature Conservancy Book, D. Ladd rand F. Oberle) are most useful for truly seeing if "this is the one". If you can find a book which has photos of similar species together ("Roadside Plants and Flowers, A Travelers Guide to the Midwest and Great Lakes Area, M Edsall, University of Wisconsin Press)and has notes on distinguishing characteristics. I also find its useful to learn to identify which family a plant is in before scanning pictures to ID the species. Dichotomous keys are good for that IF they don't get too technical. Find a book with family keys first before the species keys. This may be obvious but some "upland" species are found in the wetland and vice verse so depending upon where you are you may need at least two books; one for wetland veg and one for the prairie community (i.e., tallgrass). In addition, some plant books are limited to "wildflowers" and you may of missed that window.
In the fall of the year I use a book that identifies plants by their persistent seed heads and stalks. Its also a good idea to get a book with photos of both the identifying feature (usually flower or seed head) and the entire plant ("Wildflwers of Wisconsin and the Great Lakes region, A Comprehensive Field Guide", second edition, Black and Judzieqicz, University of Wisconsin Press).