Top 6 Tree Identification Guides Reviewed



Zhou Jiang / Gety Images 

Here are six of the best tree identification guides in print. Two actually have companion guides divided into eastern and western North American regions. We have selected these tree identification guides for clarity, usability, coverage and good reviews from users. We own all of these books. They are high quality and a good resource for most tree hobbyists and outdoor enthusiasts. Just pick the one you think offers you most for the value.

By Elbert L. Little
The Eastern Edition generally covers states east of the Rocky Mountains. This photo-rich guidebook describes 364 species and is organized by the shape of the leaf or needle, by the fruit, by the flower or cone, and by autumn coloration. ​Its turtleback design makes for a light and compact book that can be easily carried on hikes. Most first-time tree identifiers love this book. This is the book to own if east of the Mississippi River. (Turtleback; Knopf; ISBN: 0394507606)

By Elbert L. Little
The Western Edition covers the Rocky Mountain range and all the states to the west of it. This companion guidebook covers 300 species and is organized exactly like the Eastern Edition. If you stay west of the Mississippi River this is the book to own. (Turtleback; Knopf; ISBN: 0394507614)

By David Allen Sibley
David Allen Sibley just entered the realm of best American nature illustrators including Sargent, Audubon, and Peterson by expanding his stunning illustrative talents. Sibley shows his versatility by equaling his bird field guide with his new tree field guide. "Guide To Trees" fully illustrates 600 tree species, including introduced species. I like what I see! (Turtleback; Knopf; ISBN: 9780375415197)

By George A. Petrides, Janet Wehr, Roger Tory Peterson
Peterson's has one of the best pocket-sized tree guides and many prefer this to the Audubon guide. The best part of the Peterson guide is that it has clearly and beautifully illustrated leafed summer and leafless winter keys. Without them, you might find yourself lost among the many pages of illustrations. This particular guide identifies most native trees in ​Eastern North America. (Paperback; Houghton Mifflin Co; ISBN: 0395904552)

By George A. Petrides, Janet Wehr, Roger Tory Peterson
This Peterson's Field Guide companion to the eastern trees includes all the native and naturalized trees of western North America. Nearly 400 trees are beautifully illustrated in color, along with comparison charts, range maps, keys to plants in leafless condition, and text distinctions between similar species. (Paperback; Houghton Mifflin Co; ISBN: 0395904544)

By May T. Watts
Tree Finder is the best pocket-sized tree identification manual available for trees east of Rocky Mountains. Fifty-eight illustrated pages are crammed full of tips that help in identifying 300 of North America's most common native trees. This inexpensive key is dichotomous. You select the best of two questions until identification. Many times you can skip the key if you review the leaf illustrations and have some knowledge of individual tree species.