Wild Berries & Fruits Field Guides

There's no experience quite like foraging for wild berries. It's the best of all worlds - being outdoors, experiencing the "thrill of the hunt" and seeing the "fruits of your labor" as your basket fills up with the makings of your next dessert. And the best part - you didn't have to do any of the gardening! If you or your family consider yourselves "casual foragers" like myself (as in, you know how to identify a blackberry or raspberry but are not a hardcore survivalist), I think you'll enjoy these excellent field guides. My favorite features include: full-page color photos of the plant and fruit, the organization of plants by color of their ripe fruit, helpful range maps, and the clear designation of berries and fruits as "edible" or "not edible." Each plant is displayed on a two-page spread with the photograph on the right-hand-side, and identification points such as habitat, growth, leaves, fruit, season, and comparative notes on the left-hand page. The primary color of the fruit/berry in season is marked in the upper left-hand corner, ringed with the edible/non-edible designation. Range maps and symbols indicating notable plant characteristics are also displayed on the top of the page. Other helpful features include additional information on safety and identification, how to tell ripe from unripe fruit, a ripening calendar, a bibliography, glossary and index. The guides are small enough to toss in a backpack or large pocket, and the focus on a small group of states makes them practical and easy-to-navigate for most Midwestern foragers. 280-336 pages, paperback. - Jess

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