Handbook of the Trees of New England

Handbook of the Trees of New England

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There is no lack of good manuals of botany in this country. There still seems place for an adequately illustrated book of convenient size for field use. The larger manuals, moreover, cover extensive regions and sometimes fail by reason of their universality to give a definite idea of plants as they grow within more limited areas. New England marks a meeting place of the Canadian and Alleghanian floras. Many southern plants, long after they have abandoned more elevated situations northward, continue to advance up the valleys of the Connecticut and Merrimac rivers, in which they ultimately disappear entirely or else reappear in the valley of the St. Lawrence; while many northern plants pushing southward maintain a more or less precarious existence upon the mountain summits or in the cold swamps of New England, and sometimes follow along the mountain ridges to the middle or southern states. In addition to these two floras, some southwestern and western species have invaded Vermont along the Champlain valley, and thrown out pickets still farther eastward.

At or near the limit of a species, the size and habit of plants undergo great change; in the case of trees, to which this book is restricted, often very noticeable. There is no fixed, absolute dividing line between trees and shrubs. In accordance with the usual definition, a tree must have a single trunk, unbranched at or near the base, and must be at least fifteen feet in height.

Trees that are native in New England, or native in other sections of the United States and thoroughly established in New England, are described and, for the most part, figured. Foreign trees, though locally established, are not figured. Trees may be occasionally spontaneous over a large area without really forming a constituent part of the flora. Even the apple and pear, when originating spontaneously and growing without cultivation, quickly become degenerate and show little tendency to possess themselves of the soil at the expense of the native growths. Gleditsia, for example, while clearly locally established, has with some hesitation been accorded pictorial representation.

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