Second edition of tree identification book offers new features

November 22, 2010

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – An updated guide for identifying trees in Indiana and surrounding states is available from Purdue University Press.

The revised and expanded second edition of Native Trees of the Midwest: Identification, Wildlife Value, and Landscaping Use includes a new chapter on common exotic species that cause problems in the Midwest. 

Sally Weeks, dendrology laboratory manager in Purdue's Department of Forestry and Natural Resources and lead author of the book, said many of the species were introduced for landscaping but have spread and are overtaking native trees.

One such problem species is Siberian elm, which was brought in as a substitute for dying American elms. The tree is structurally unsound and susceptible to breakage from ice storms. Insects also cause major damage to the tree's leaves, giving the tree an overall poor appearance.

Another is ailanthus, commonly known as tree of heaven. Native to Asia, ailanthus is an aggressive tree that produces chemicals that ward off competition, keeping other plants at bay. It is also structurally unsound and short-lived.

The book includes color photographs and descriptions explaining how to identify each species. It also shows how each species can be used in landscaping and as an ornamental. Hard-to-find information on the value of tree species to wildlife also is detailed. Some species descriptions also have been revised and updated from the first edition. 

Weeks said the book is intended for anyone interested in trees. 

"What most people appreciate are the numerous color plates for each species showing all the details," Weeks said. "It is easy to understand because there is not a lot of technical terminology."

Harmon Weeks Jr., professor of wildlife science in forestry and natural resources, and George Parker, professor emeritus of forestry and natural resources, contributed to the book.

The book's organization is based on a tree's classification as either evergreen or deciduous. In the deciduous section, the trees are divided into alternate or opposite branching and then grouped by family. 

For more information or to order the book, call 1-800-247-6553 or visit and select the revised and expanded second edition.

Writer: Elise Brown, 765-494-8402,

Source: Sally Weeks, 765-494-3567, 

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson,
Agriculture News Page