Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Corrections to The Sibley Guide to Trees

updated 16 Oct 2009

Here are page-by-page corrections and changes for the Sibley Guide to Trees. This listing will be updated periodically as issues come to my attention. Please feel free to leave comments or send me an email if you notice anything that is not listed here.

p 3 - California Torreya, the common and scientific names should be justified left
p 28 - Red Pine needs a new name to distinguish it from Japanese Red Pine. I propose American Red Pine.
p 146 - Black Hickory caption should say "husk very similar to Pignut..."; Sand Hickory, captions should read "fruit similar to Pignut..." and "twigs similar to Pignut..."
p 179 - Tanoak - caption at bottom right should specify “pale underleaf conspicuous among dense, dark foliage”
p 189 - Southern Red Oak leafy twig, the caption saying “acorn identical to Southern Red Oak” should instead say “acorn identical to Cherrybark Oak”
p 227 - Tung-Oil Tree - leaves should be larger
p 252 - Glossy False-buckthorn includes the three leaves at the top of the column and the map at the bottom. The yellow box of text and the three leaves immediately below that are Ceanothus. The map should be moved up above the box text to make clear that it represents the range of Glossy False-buckthorn.
p255 - Rose Family Intro, near bottom of column 1 should say "Plums and Cherries (Prunus) page 256" [not page 254]
p 302 - Slippery Elm, in the third sentence "fragrant" is misspelled.
page 332 - Intro to maples, the third paragraph begins "All maples have palmately compound leaves..." This should instead say "Nearly all maples have palmately lobed leaves..." And could go on to elaborate that a few species have the leaves so deeply lobed that they are compound, and Boxelder is unique among the maples in having pinnately compound leaves.
p 345 - Mountain Maple underleaf should be rotated with stem down, (same for Vine Maple)
p 392 - First line of text - capitalize Paulownia family
p 393 - Aralia Family, add a sentence saying "Castor-Aralia (p 322) is also a member of this family and should be placed here." [and in a future edition it will be]

Pignut p 145
Rose Family p 254
And it is suggested (see comments below) that species like Northern White-Cedar and Western Redcedar should have an entry in the index under "cedar". [and presumably there are other examples like this]


Big G said...


Kevin Purcell said...

p302 - Slippery Elm - "fragramt" should be "fragrant"

A more general issue is the index. I've found three problems so far.

The minor one is there are a few entries I've found (so there may be more) where the page entry is off by one or two. I presume the page order changed a bit after the index was created.


Pignut p145 is on p148
Rose Family p253 is on p354

This also happens in some of the family intros too e.g. Rose family intro says "Plums and Cherries on p254" but they're on page p256.

Another minor issue is names mentioned in the text but not in the index

p146 - Sand Hickory caption text - "twigs similar to Sweet Pignut" but neither Sweet Pignut nor Pignut, Sweet is in the index.

The second is the indexing of common names of some trees especially when the name includes a "family name". For example the Western Redcedar and Northern White-Cedar are not indexed under Cedar which for the naive user is not expected (even though they're Cypresses not Cedrus). This is fixed for Douglas-fir which is under Fir even though it isn't (common names: don't you love then!).

A reviewer made a similar comment in a review in the Cleveland Plain Dealer where he mentions "What Sibley calls 'American Larch' I've always called 'Tamarack' or 'hatmatack.' The guide gives three alternate names for the tree - tamarack, hackmatack and black larch - but the index only includes Hackmatack. The welter of names isn't Sibley's fault, but he and his editors could have sorted them better."

Finally on p322 The Castor-Aralia is in the Aralia family but it's split off from the main Aralia family entry on p393 and not indexed under Aralia in the index. It would be easy to miss if I hadn't noticed it.

David Sibley said...

Hi Kevin. Thanks for these comments. I've updated the list above. And I just have two points in response to continue the discussion about common names: Most species have many different common names, and I had limited space, so I had to choose two or (rarely) three or four alternate names to highlight. In most cases I tried to choose the most frequently-used, but I would tend to leave out minor variations of the primary name, and I suspect that's why I didn't include "Sweet Pignut Hickory" since the species is named "Pignut Hickory". It would be great to have a complete listing of alternate names, but it simply wouldn't fit in this book. If anyone knows of a good comprehensive source please let me know.
The index includes Douglas Fir under "Fir" because the alternate name listed is "Douglas Fir" without a hyphen. Species like Western Redcedar (compound word) and Northern White-Cedar (hyphenated) would not be picked up for the index. This is just an explanation, not a defense, and I agree that those species should appear under Cedar.

Big G said...

Wow, if this is it, I'm happy. And happy NYT Bestseller List, Dave! We're behind "What to Expect..." and "Skinny Bitch," but we'll keep climbing!

Matthew said...

I appreciate these corrections. And thanks for the book, too. There were two oaks of the same species side by side in Brooklyn's Prospect Park that were bothering me because I couldn't find them in a couple of standard tree guides I have. This was a big mast year, and the fat acorns and crazy-hippie cups were all around the trees. I'm glad you've included non-native species, because sure enough the sawtooth oak revealed itself there.