a reference with identification information and other pertinent information that includes-but is not limited to-range. ~ growing conditions. life cycle. cultural needs. and distinguishing traits or characteristics.

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
field guide (noun)
an illustrated manual for identifying natural objects, flora, or fauna in nature
field guide (Wikipedia)

A field guide is a book designed to help the reader identify wildlife (flora or fauna) or other objects of natural occurrence (e.g. rocks and minerals). It is generally designed to be brought into the "field" or local area where such objects exist to help distinguish between similar objects. Field guides are often designed to help users distinguish animals and plants that may be similar in appearance but are not necessarily closely related.

A species plate from The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds, illustrating different plumages of the red knot

It will typically include a description of the objects covered, together with paintings or photographs and an index. More serious and scientific field identification books, including those intended for students, will probably include identification keys to assist with identification, but the publicly accessible field guide is more often a browsable picture guide organized by family, colour, shape, location or other descriptors.

« Back to Glossary Index