The Gymnosperm Bookstore
In the course of developing the Gymnosperm Database, I have drawn on a wide array of information sources -- newspaper articles, articles from scientific journals, academic and popular books, historical materials, Internet data sources, e-mail from readers, conversation with conifer and cycad lovers (I'm afraid I have yet to meet a Gnetum nut), and personal field experience. Wherever possible, I have included links to the Internet data sources. This page provides access to commercial sources for printed matter. The first such source is the online bookstore, Amazon.com. Anything you purchase from Amazon using the links on this page will return a small royalty to me, which I will use to help defray the costs of maintaining this website. The second such source is any other online link to book sales, which I will use for books that Amazon does not carry. The third source, which I recommend you use to search for journal articles and some other materials from the technical literature, is Google Scholar. This will help you identify the existence of a relevant article and in most cases there will be a way to access it, if only by paying an exorbitant sum of money. It is usually better to use your local library, which can in many cases get these journals on interlibrary loan. It seems that libraries do still have their uses in this digital age.
All books are listed alphabetically, by author. Books with a link may be purchased by clicking on the link or the image.
Excellent illustrations and fine nature writing. This and the next book are well worth owning.
This seems to be the era of conifer encyclopedias; nothing of note for decades, and then comprehensive treatments published in 2009 (Eckenwalder), 2010 (Farjon), and twice in 2012 (Debreczy and Racz, Auders and Spicer)! Of the four, this is the only one that provides in-depth treatments of cultivars, and though I haven't seen the books yet, I trust Derek Spicer to have done a very thorough job of it. Hard to find and expensive. If the links for Amazon.com don't work out, try the Royal Horticultural Society.
This is basically a BIG picture book with some entertaining text about people obsessed with trees. The pictures are in many ways unique and memorable; in particular, Balog has done a better job than any other professional photographer of capturing Sequoia sempervirens on camera. When I want to show people why canopy research is so cool, this is the book I show them.
Exceptionally good for its photographs.
This book doesn't have a lot of information on conifers (although there are some great Taxodium mucronatum photos), but is otherwise a great introduction to the dry seasonal forest of the Barranca del Cobre region in Mexico, and I recommend it to anyone contemplating travel to that conifer-rich area.
I do enjoy this book. The substance is simply a detailed list of herbarium records and accompanying species range maps, but the interspersed woodcuts of cones and foliage are both lovely and very accurate, and the book is full of little detailed notes that will be appreciated by those who are lucky enough to go tree-hunting in the desolation of Nevada.
The publisher says "This volume centres on the work of Allen Meredith, who for 14 years has been tracking down and charting all Britain's yew trees, and whose life is now dedicated to their preservation. His discovery that many of these trees are thousands rather than hundreds of years old is now accepted by botanists like David Bellamy, and his theory that the Magna Carta was signed, not at Runnymede, but beneath a yew tree just across the Thames, has also found scholarly support. Meredith has a visionary belief in the importance of the yew tree to life on Earth, and the other main strand of the book is a study of the tree's role in Christian and pre-Christian tradition."
Click HERE for a review.
Z. Debreczy and I. Racz. 2012. Conifers around the world. Dendropress Ltd. 2 vols.
This superb reference gives a full overview of the world’s temperate-zone conifers and taxads, covering 534 species. No longer available; check the used market.
Highly recommended for its insights to the ecology and ethnobotany of the species, and its historical information, but also because it's an interesting story very well written--a good read, regardless of whether you care about Pinus palustris.
Buy it! (Hardcover)
Recently published compilation of most of the world's conifer species. The number has been reduced by lumping quite a few taxa, and the treatment of each is necessarily brief, and there are a fair number of minor errors; but let's not quibble. Dr. Eckenwalder has done a fine job here, and at a very reasonable price. Recommended, especially if you can't meet the price of Dr. Farjon's 2010 encyclopedia of the conifers.
Buy it! (Paperback)
Highly recommended as a field guide for botanical neophytes in the American southwest.
"Southern" as in the Southern hemisphere. If you are interested in the ecology of the Podocarps, Araucarias and esoteric southern Cupressaceae, then there is simply no alternative to this book; it is unique in the field.
This is the first ever atlas of all known conifer species, based on the Conifers of the World database. The Atlas includes distribution maps and biogeographical detail for all conifer taxa from family to infra-specific taxa. Patterns of distribution and diversity are extensively discussed and the Atlas contains many photographs of species in their natural habitat. Phylogenetic analyses and the fossil record are referred to where available to explain these patterns.
"Handbook" is a misnomer, since it consists of two very substantial volumes, but this is the culmination of a lifetime of research by the world's foremost conifer taxonomist. The author is also an exceptionally skilled botanical illustrator, and consequently these volumes are easily better illustrated than any other recent attempt to treat the conifers in toto; in fact, the only real competition was published back in the 19th Century and is hopelessly outdated from a scientific viewpoint.
Informative, well-written, insightful, attractive, and affordable. If you only have one book about conifers, this should be it. If you have a hundred, this one should occupy a prominent spot on the shelf.
Buy it! (Paperback) - from Kewbooks.com
This is my only conifer book that is never on the shelf. I refer to it constantly because it has a pretty authoritative list of all the taxa and all the relevant nomenclature.
A great book, with great pictures, but $245.00!
Buy it! (Hardcover) - from Kewbooks.com
Another splendid book by the world's ranking conifer taxonomist. It is thick (648 pages), heavy (3.25 kg), and expensive (about $270), but incomparable.
Buy it! (Hardcover)
The current state of the art for pines of Mexico and Central America. It is a particularly welcome volume because the taxonomy of these pines has been deeply puzzling to botanists for over a century; this work clears up many old mysteries. Excellent supplementary material on anatomy, pollen morphology, ethnobotany, etc. Outstanding line drawings by Rosemary Wise. If Amazon wants too much money, shop around; it should be available for $75 or less.
Besides authoring many books (above), Aljos Farjon's pen-and-ink drawings of conifers have adorned many of his books. Many of those drawings are now available as limited edition prints, for sale only through this site.
Buy it! (Hardcover)
Like Earley's book Looking for Longleaf (above), an exploration of the once and future ecological and social importance of Pinus palustris; this book, in addition, contains many superb color photographs.
The first book here available only as an e-book, for your Kindle. I haven't read it yet but I have read one of Paul's pieces on the yews of northern England and can vouch for its accuracy.
Although it has a few inaccuracies with respect to biology, this is an attractive and highly informative book about yews.
A very nicely done field guide-plus-guidebook to the Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion, which has the highest conifer diversity of any comparably-sized area in North America: 35 species. Readable, well illustrated, and features some fantastic hikes. I also recommend you check out the website at conifercountry.com.
There aren't many books on Huon pine; this one looks pretty good. It provides an historical perspective on the harvest and use of this species, which is now protected.
This is currently my top recommendation if you want a portable field guide that covers the native trees of the entire continental U.S. and Canada.
One of the most authoritative sources for the horticultural enthusiast, Krussman is generally very accurate, with good descriptions and some of the best line drawings to be found in print. The taxonomy, however, is rather dated, and there is very little ecological information presented.
"A well-written and often witty survey of the natural history of piñon pines, spiced with observations on their importance to the native Indians and subsequent European settlers....The engaging text and copious pictures make it difficult to put the book down, and the appendix of recipes for pine-nut dishes is an added bonus." (Library Journal)
"In this extraordinary journey into the world of bristlecone [and foxtail] pines, author Ronald Lanner exposes the trees inner workings, taking apart a pine to examine bark, buds, needles, cones, roots, and wood. He follows a tree s lifespan from seedling to great old age, presenting a new interpretation of stages of growth. He explains the unusual colors and forms that make bristlecones so picturesque, describes how the forces of nature influence the trees unique shapes, and reveals their secrets of long life. Readers will discover where to go to see these trees and how to identify them. A stunning pageant of color photos shows off bristlecones and their remarkable growth patterns, and a map shows locations of groves."
Technically accurate yet very readable descriptions of each of California's 50-odd conifer species are accompanied by beautiful full-page watercolor illustrations of cone and leaf detail, and superb color photos, many by well-known artists. Identification aids include keys, and the book is compact enough to carry around as you explore California's huge and accessible conifer flora. Revised 2nd edition (3rd printing, 2007; this is probably only available in paperback) contains updates on several species, including a revised Cupressus nomenclature.
This is one of the few "specialist" books that I frequently find myself recommending to people who are just looking for a good read. Although written with proper academic rigor, this exploration of corvid-pine symbiosis is filled with interesting tidbits that you will find yourself regurgitating at need. For instance, did you know that a nutcracker may bury over 25,000 seeds over the course of a season - and then, come winter, remember where it put every one of them?
Frankly this book and the one just below are outdated. In 1980 it was the best thing in its class, but natural history books these days are generally better written and easier to use. I recommend Kershner for a portable text, and Mitchell for its superior illustrations.
Paul S. Martin, David Yetman and Mark Fishbein (Editors). 1998. Gentry's Rio Mayo Plants : The Tropical Deciduous Forest & Environs of Northwest Mexico (Southwest Center Series). University of Arizona Press.
Buy it! (Hardcover).
Revised edition, originally published 1942 by Howard Scott Gentry.
I've never seen this book, and Amazon doesn't review it. It just looks interesting.
Muir's chapter on forest trees of the Sierra Nevada is a classic of the botanical literature, accurate enough to be useful today (apart from numerous changes in taxonomic nomenclature) and yet wonderfully poetic and evocative. I would call this one of the ten best natural history studies ever written, a fitting companion to books (regretfully, almost devoid of gymnosperm natural history) such as "Voyage of the Beagle" and "A Sand County Almanac."
An outstanding and current reference source. Chapters treat: General features, genera and relationships; Anatomy of the stems, leaves and roots; Reproduction and embryo development; Physiology and growth; Population biology and pollination dynamics; The fossil cycadophytes; Old world genera and species; and New world genera and species. The 134 color illustrations provide an added treat.
"The Redwood Forest provides scientific guidance for saving the redwood forest by bringing together in a single volume the latest insights from conservation biology along with new information from data-gathering techniques such as GIS and remote sensing. It presents the most current findings on the geologic and cultural history, natural history, ecology, management, and conservation of the flora and fauna of the redwood ecosystem. Leading experts-including Todd Dawson, Bill Libby, John Sawyer, Steve Sillett, Dale Thornburgh, Hartwell Welch, and many others-offer a comprehensive account of the redwoods ecosystem."
I will just add that currently, this is without doubt the best book on redwood ecology.
If you want to travel in Mexico and have any hope of distinguishing the 47 different species of native pines (not counting significant varieties and subspecies), then you need to carry two books: this one and Farjon & Styles, listed above. Farjon & Styles is better on science and taxonomy, but Perry tells better stories.
The outstanding field guide for the area.
A reviewer says "Graham Powell has written an insightful and beautifully illustrated book on the lives of conifers. Everyone who works with, studies, and loves these trees will derive both knowledge and pleasure from learning about them in great detail. I have always had a special fondness for the conifers and their mystical and inspiring representatives like the massive redwoods and the bleak denizens of the boreal forests, the spruces. Powell's book does them their well-deserved justice."
The outstanding field guide for the area.
This book has generated a lot of attention for climbing trees in general. For the most part I don't hold with climbing exceptional trees, because climbing, even when done in the most careful way possible, has a high potential of irreparably damaging the trees. However, climbing for science is another matter, and Preston provides an eminently readable account of the extraordinary new discoveries being made by scientists working in the forest canopy. This book particularly focuses on recent work with Sequoia sempervirens.
An outstanding volume, representing the work of 40 recognized experts, with 22 chapters addressing subjects as diverse as systematics, late Quaternary population dynamics, regional surveys, the role of fire, the evolution of life histories, genetic variation, seed dispersal, ecophysiology, mycorrhiza and soils, diseases and insect interactions, cultivation, and pines as invaders in the southern hemisphere.
I admit it, I've long had a fondness for physiological ecology, and I particularly recommend this book because I have studied (at least briefly) under both authors. If you are interested in the nuts and bolts of how trees actually work, this and the book below provide the best introduction available.
Van Gelderen is a horticulturalist, and this pair of volumes makes a very strong attempt to illustrate, with glossy color photographs, every taxon and cultivar of conifer. This is its prime value; the text is of much less consequence.
This book is essential if you are interested in the largest trees of the world, most of which grow in western North America. It presents the five largest known trees of each of the largest 20 species in this region. It is also essential if you are interested in botanical illustration, as the author presents many of what are unquestionably the best line drawings ever produced of really large trees.
Highly recommended for its clear exposition of the distinctive structure of these forests and for the many fine line drawings showing the range of morphological variation in dominant trees of these forests.
Even better than the 2007 volume!
Buy it! (Hardcover)
One of the few books to discuss Americans' cultural (rather than economic or biological) relationship with their forests.
This long, long awaited volume is the most comprehensive treatment of the Araucariaceae ever published. To the best of my knowledge, it is only available from this one New Zealand seller, and the supply is quite limited.
Black-and-white art photographs of bristlecone pines.
Last Modified 2014-03-29