Throwback Thursday: 102 Years of Michigan Trees

by Kasie Pleiness on November 12, 2015

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Michigan Trees: A Guide to the Trees of the Great Lakes Region is the must-have reference book for anyone who wants to learn about the trees of this unique North American region. The first edition of Michigan Trees was published in 1913 and preceded the University of Michigan Press by 17 years. After the Press was founded, a second edition was released under our imprint in 1931. New editions have been released every 20 or so years since then, appearing in 1954, 1972, 1981, and most recently, in 2004. While previous editions of the book had focused on identification, the 1981 edition emphasized forest ecology, essentially the study of different plant communities, their interaction, and what they tell us about the health and evolution of the environment. This was a critical change for maintaining the book’s relevance in the popular woody plants courses taught at the University of Michigan and elsewhere in the region. Nearly double the length of the original, the 2004 edition of Michigan Trees, adds thirteen tree species identifications, including pumpkin ash, shumard oak, and swamp cottonwood, contains sections on fall color and hybridization, and calls attention to counterparts of the region’s trees in the Northern Hemisphere. This edition was revised and edited by Burton Barnes and Warren Wagner.

The newest edition of Michigan Trees still uses the original artwork produced for the first edition by Charles Herbert Otis. The care and detail that went into the preparation and execution of these illustrations is likely unmatched by any botanical guidebook in the country.

Burton Barnes also edited Michigan Shrubs and Vines: A Guide to Species of the Great Lakes Region, which details 132 species of plants and is written in the same easy-to-use format as Michigan Trees


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