The 6 Best Tree Identification Guides

No need to guess when you have these guides.

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If you've ever looked at a tree and wondered what species it is, you already know how helpful a tree identification guide can be. Identification guides take several different approaches, from region-specific guides to more general information. Whether you're an expert looking to expand your knowledge or a novice just looking for a few specific answers, these guides offer in-depth knowledge on all the trees you might encounter in North America.

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National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees: Eastern Region

Audubon Trees East guide cover

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.

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National Audubon Society FieldGuide to North American Trees: Western Region

Audubon Trees West guide cover

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.

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The Sibley Guide to Trees by David Allen Sibley

Sibley Guide to Trees cover

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.

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A Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Trees by George A. Petrides & Janet Wehr

Peterson Trees East guide cover

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.

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A Peterson Field Guide to Western Trees by Olivia Petrides

Peterson Trees West guide cover

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.

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Tree Finder: A Manual for the Identification of Trees by May Theilgaard Watts

Watts Tree Finder cover

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.

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Your Citation
Nix, Steve. "The 6 Best Tree Identification Guides." ThoughtCo, Apr. 19, 2023, Nix, Steve. (2023, April 19). The 6 Best Tree Identification Guides. Retrieved from Nix, Steve. "The 6 Best Tree Identification Guides." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 7, 2023).