Researched for more than three decades, this definitive work provides up-to-date descriptions of all the true conifers of the world, including 545 species of trees and shrubs. Written for accessibility to both horticultural and botanical audiences, it is the first comprehensive update of conifer taxonomy in nearly a century.
Noted conifer taxonomist James E. Eckenwalder also discusses the relationships among the groups, practical usages, champion trees, fossil occurrences, and biology.
New identification guides for the families and genera are based whenever possible on foliage features and thus should be easier to use than traditional conifer keys, which focus on seasonal, and often microscopic, cone characters. Eckenwalder shares the reasoning behind his taxonomic decisions, many of which are unique to this book, reflecting a comprehensive reevaluation of conifer classification.
He also outlines the features sought in cultivars of each genus, particular cultivation concerns, and conifers recommended for cultivation under various conditions and to achieve different effects. Some 3,000 cultivars have been available in recent times, more than five times the total number of conifer species.
Several hundred original illustrations include drawings of the seed cones for all genera as well as for representative species. Maps of the natural distribution of each genus allow for easy comparison of ranges. Handsome black-and-white photographs of species in their natural habitats and attractive color photos further enrich the volume. More than 100 images reproduce foliage of many genera as an aid in identification.
With its unprecedented attention to detail and extensive bibliography, this major work is an essential reference for botanists, naturalists, and horticulturists.