Native Trees of the Southeast

An Identification Guide


By L. Katherine Kirkman

By Claud L. Brown

By Donald J. Leopold

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Students, professionals, tree lovers, and native plant enthusiasts alike will fall in love with Native Plants of the Southeast.

The diversity of woody plants in the Southeast is unparalleled in North America. Native Trees of the Southeast is a practical, compact field guide for the identification of the more than 225 trees native to the region, from the Carolinas and eastern Tennessee south through Georgia into northern Florida and west through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas into eastern Texas. For confident identification, nearly 600 photographs, close to 500 of them in color, illustrate leaves, flowers and fruits or cones, bark, and twigs with buds. Crucial differences between plants that may be mistaken for each other are discussed and notes on the uses of the trees in horticulture, forestry, and for wildlife are included.


Native Trees of the Southeast is for the identification and appreciation of the 229 trees native to the southeastern United States, including all those except the ones limited only to the more tropical portions of southern Florida. Our choice of which species to include as small trees, or to exclude as large shrubs, was somewhat arbitrary and may differ from the opinions of other authors. Size and form of individual trees vary regionally with genetic diversity and environmental conditions, and the distinction between trees and shrubs based solely on size is not absolute. In general, we include those woody plants that reach 15 ft. or more high, that commonly have a single trunk or stem 3 inches or more in diameter, and that are topped with an upright crown of branches. Native trees are considered here as those that occurred within the southeastern region prior to European settlement. Introduced and naturalized trees have been excluded from the keys and descriptions, although some commonly encountered species and their distinguishing characteristics are presented in an appendix.
This book provides summer and winter keys (using a minimum of technical terms) and photographs of leaves, flowers, fruit, bark, and twigs. The descriptions include maps, important identification characteristics, discussion of recognition difficulties compared to other trees, and accounts of habitat and economic, landscape, and wildlife uses.
The summer keys begin with a key to several large groupings of plants. This first step narrows the pool of potential genera based on several diagnostic traits that are easily observed. The key to conifers, in summer or winter, is given as the first group under the summer keys. Keys to genera, or to species if there is only a single species of the genus in the Southeast, are given for each group. Keys to species in genera that have more than a single species in the Southeast are provided within the treatment of the families, which are arranged alphabetically throughout the book. Winter keys are arranged similarly. A glossary and an index to scientific and common names of families, genera, and species are provided.
Taxonomy and nomenclature generally follow Flora of North America or Wunderlin and Hansen (2003) but not always, because Flora of North America is incomplete. Common names are based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plants database,, but include additional familiar expressions. Only the most commonly encountered synonyms are provided and do not reflect complete taxonomic treatments.


  • “Few plant identification guides have done such an outstanding job of clearly describing the scope of the text. . . . Recommended.” —Choice

    “Very informative and a good source for any amateur or avid outdoorsman.” —Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas

On Sale
Jul 15, 2007
Page Count
372 pages
Timber Press

L. Katherine Kirkman

About the Author

L. Katherine Kirkman is a scientist at the J. W. Jones Ecological Research Center in Newton, Georgia, and serves on the adjunct faculty at University of Georgia, University of Florida, and Auburn University. She resides in Albany, Georgia.

Claud L. Brown is Alumni Foundation Distinguished Professor of Forest Resources, Emeritus, at the University of Georgia, Athens. He coauthored Trees: Structure and Function and Tress of Georgia and Adjacent States

Donald J. Leopold is a distinguished teaching professor and department chair of at the College of Environmental Science and Forest Biology, State University of New York, Syracuse, where he has won numerous teaching awards and researches the ecology of old-growth forests and wetlands, the biology of rare plant species, and the biodiversity and restoration of ecosystems. He earned a PhD in forest ecology from Purdue University and an MSF in forest ecology from the University of Kentucky. Leopold has been recognized with awards from the Garden Writers Association and the NYS Nursery and Landscape Association. His research and speaking events focus on applying ecological principles from natural communities to the development of sustainable green systems and restoring badly degraded landscapes.

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