Nothing is better than well-illustrated plant books, except maybe an exceptional bottle of wine for under $10 (one can have dreams). Two newish books have come to the attention of the Phactor and both upon initial inspection seem quite good. The first is a field guide to Gymnosperms of the United State and Canada, and the wonderful illustrations may be glimpsted over at ArtPlantae, and do not let anyone anywhere try to tell you that photography can take the place of good botanical illustration. You'll love this book. However, as a field guide this book has not been tested to determine how well it works at actually identifying gymnosperms. Maybe some reader will have given it a go and let us know.
The second is a book about tree leaves, The Book of Leaves, more precisely the leaves of exactly 600 temperate zone trees. This is less of a field guide, being a rather hefty tome, and more of a reference book, but a quite handsome and very well done one. Each page has an excellent image of a leaf, full-sized (as much as the page allows) next to the full leaf, and an interesting commentary about the tree as well as its botanical specs. The tree selections, and you might quibble with a few, are selected from all the world's temperate zones, so yes, it includes Nothofagus as surely you were wondering. As a tropically oriented botanist, the temperate zone restriction is rather disappointing, but perhaps this will give the author, Allen Coombes, an idea for his next project. Looks like the Phactor has found a couple of presents to buy for that very special botanically-inclined someone. Or send this blog to someone as a hint of a present for yourself!
20 minutes ago in Variety of Life