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2013 THE MICHIGAN BOTANIST 55
Edward G. Voss and Anton A. Reznicek. 2012. Field Manual of Michigan Flora. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. xiii + 990 pp. ISBN 978-0-472-11811-3. Hardback. $25.00.
Recommending “Field Manual of the Michigan Flora” (FMMF) to Midwestern botanists is as easy to do as praising the benefits of good food, love and travel. Its merits are so self-evident that I come up flat-footed in straining to find sufficient praise for it. Generations of Michigan professional and amateur botanists (and also those of Wiscon- sin, eastern Minnesota, northern Indiana, northern Ohio, and Ontario) have grown up re- garding its predecessors, the three “Michigan Flora” (MF) volumes, produced by Ed Voss in 1972, 1985 and 1996, as the “bibles” of Great Lakes plant identification. And now we have FMMF. It is an outstanding, comprehensive, and ridiculously inexpensive ($22.50 when I checked Amazon.com this morning) single hard-cover volume with updated nomenclature and keys, and the generous addition of many species of cultivated and in- frequently escaping plants. The outstanding sets of excellent keys, including the difficult graminoids and aquatic macrophytes, are peerless.
The nomenclature is completely up-to-date and includes many new segregate genera and families that will be unfamiliar to the amateur botanist unaware of the advances in plant classification made in recent decades. Fortunately, FMMF includes an appendix (pages 939-941) listing Michigan plant genera whose family assignments have changed. For genera that have been split up into segregates, such as Aster (page 372), the paragraph under the generic treatment helpfully lists these segregates (in this case into Canadanthus, Doellingeria, Eurybia, Oclemena, Sericocarpus, and—the largest segregate—Symphy- otrichum). I will admit that it takes some time getting used to seeing old favorites in “new” genera, such as the pale corydalis in Capnoides and the Asian bleeding-heart in Lamprocapnos! The authors even indulge in some defensible hunches in anticipating fu- ture changes—for example, that we will eventually not need to lump Hepatica into Anemone. At the family level, among the biggest changes that the long-time botanist will note is the segregation of the Liliaceae into 11 families (helpfully noted on page 175-176 under that family), with only the trout-lilies (Erythronium) and the true lilies (Lilium) re- maining from the broad, traditional Liliaceae. On the other hand, the authors could have noted (but did not) on page 891 that the traditional Scrophulariaceae has been “blown up” with major chunks assigned to the Orobanchaceae and Plantaginaceae, and odd bits to the Linderniaceae and Phrymaceae.
FMMF treats 2,719 species—an increase of 254 species since the MF volumes, and includes the recognition of 39 native species as new to Michigan. Some of these new records reflect the recent “splitting” of long-known native species, such as the recent seg- regation of the sedge Carex echinodes from C. tenera, and the giant blue cohosh Caulo- phyllum giganteum from C. thalictroides. Many new county records have been added.
Generously, FMMF now includes such often long-persistent cultivated plants as Nor- way spruce (Picea abies) and (in passing) Colorado blue spruce (P. pungens)—species that always frustrate my plant taxonomy students, since they are not included in standard regional floras such as Gleason & Cronquist (1991). I heartily recommend that future floristic works follow FMMF’s lead and include, if possible, ubiquitous long-persistent cultivated plants that are such important parts of our landscapes.
In order to accommodate the entire seed plant flora in one volume, some reductions
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were necessary. The three MF volumes totaled 1,887 pages (including material paginated with Roman numerals), while FMMF comes in at 1,003 pages (xiii + 990). Thirty-five pages of introductory material in MF Volume I have been reduced to just over two pages. The largest cuts were to the illustrations. MF had a total of 24 color photograph plates il- lustrating 147 species, as well as a generous number of line drawings; for example, of the 169 species of Carex known in Michigan in 1972, the first volume of MF provided illustrations for 83 of them. This is perhaps the biggest limitation of the FMMF, but i s m i t i g a t e d b y t h e f a c t t h a t t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f M i c h i g a n H e r b a r i u m (http://www.lsa.umich.edu/herb/) offers all three of the original MF volumes for a total cost of $25.00 (while supplies last). In the Amazon.com reviews, some have lamented the lack of a treatment of pteridophytes (which were also not include in MF), but these are readily available on Michigan Flora Online (http://michiganflora.net/), which also has much of the content of FMMF and is continuously updated.
Michigan’s right “arm”—the Upper Peninsula—drapes over Wisconsin’s northeastern shoulder like a protective sibling and hints at the two states’ close floristic similarities. Of all of the Wolverine State’s neighbors, the Badger State has benefited the most from the MF/FMMF series. We “Sconnie” botanists have long used these volumes as our primary go-to floristic resource.
That challenged me to attempt to quantify FMMF’s completeness of coverage of Wis- consin’s approximately 1,800 native species of seed plants. In the southwest half of our state, roughly south of our Tension Zone, only 59 native Wisconsin species are not treated in FMMF—thus, the book has a coverage rate of about 97% in that area. In the north- eastern half of Wisconsin (the side fronting the Upper Peninsula and roughly north of our Tension Zone), there are only 18 native species not covered in FMMF—a 99% coverage rate! Looked at in more practical terms, if one were to collect a native plant at random in Central Wisconsin, for example, I believe the chances would be 99.999% (or better!) that it would be treated in FMMF.
It’s a guilty pleasure to point out a small way in which a future edition of this book could be improved. I prefer and applaud the use of the alphabetical-by-family-genus- species approach, but it has its shortcomings, too. Perhaps my biggest (albeit still minor) frustration in using the book involves the genus Carex. If I recognize that an unknown sedge is related to (say) Carex stricta, I can easily look up that species in the book in sec- onds. But, if I want to get a list of related congeners in the same section, and do not re- member that C. stricta is a member of section Phacocystis, then I need to leaf through 21 pages of keys in order to determine that it belongs in that section along with seven other congeners—a process that takes more time than it should. I suggest that in the next edi- tion, each Carex species entry should have its sectional placement mentioned at the end of the species entry to facilitate ease of “backtracking.”
Finally, I must salute Tony Reznicek and the late Ed Voss for this marvelous accom- plishment. How lucky we are to be contemporaries of these master natural plant histori- ans, worthy successors to Asa Gray, Merritt Fernald, and Arthur Cronquist, who have so generously shared their knowledge of the Great Lakes region in print, and in person.
——Emmet J. Judziewicz Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium Department of Biology and Museum of Natural History University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point