Check out our favorite native plant books below!
The majority of these books can also be found on our Bookshop.org affiliate page. When you purchase a book via our page or the links below, we receive a percentage of the proceeds, with the profits supporting independent bookstores.
Intro to Native Plants
Nature's Best Hope by Doug Tallamy
A seminal book that has influenced many people. Entomologist Doug Tallamy makes a compelling case for the importance of transforming our landscape with native plants.
The Humane Gardener by Nancy Lawson
Another great book that explains the importance of native plants and covers more ways to make our yards friendlier to wildlife.
The Northeast Native Plant Primer by Uli Lorimer
This beautifully photographed book profiles many native trees, shrubs, and perennials suitable for gardening in our region.
The Gardener's Guide to Prairie Plants by Neil Diboll and Hilary Cox
This book focuses on perennials of the prairie, many of which are native to Ohio. It has excellent in-depth information including photos of each plant from seedling to maturity, as well as useful gardening and maintenance information.
Design and Maintenance of Native Plantings
Garden Revolution by Larry Weaner and Thomas Christopher
Our favorite native garden design book. It teaches an ecologically informed method for gardening and maintaining native landscapes, with a focus on meadows and some information on starting a garden from seed.
The Living Landscape by Rick Darke and Doug Tallamy
Learn how to design your home landscape with inspiration from our native ecosystems. Lush photographs show plants in the wild and in naturalistic plantings, with a special focus on forested landscapes and shade gardens.
Native Meadowscaping by Indigenous Landscapes
Starting a meadow from seed is an affordable option for large plantings. However, it is tricky and a lot can go wrong. This book is a detailed how-to guide on site preparation, seeding, and maintenance of native meadows.
The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden by Roy Diblik
We recommend this book with one big caveat - few of the plants included in the book are native to the United States. However, if you ignore the plant profiles and garden designs, this book teaches many practical skills essential for the beginning gardener.
Planting in a Post-Wild World by Claudia West and Thomas Rainer
This book from the world of landscape architecture also does not focus on natives. However, it demonstrates many important design principles for naturalistic plantings. A great read if you want to up your design game.
Deer-Resistant Native Plants for the Northeast by Ruth Rogers Clausen and Gregory Tepper
Deer eating preferences vary by neighborhood, but this book is a good place to start if you're having trouble. It gives a deer resistance ranking for every featured plant and shares useful tips for deterring deer from the garden.
Pollinators of Native Plants by Heather Holm
The best book for those interested in observing pollinators in the garden. Full of great information about plant-pollinator interactions, this book also profiles dozens of native plants and their common insect visitors.
Farming with Native Beneficial Insects by the Xerces Society
Although geared towards farmers, this book contains plenty of useful information for the home gardener looking to reduce pest pressure on their crops. The book profiles many native beneficial insects and shares strategies to attract them.
Planting Native to Attract Birds to Your Yard by Sharon Sorenson
This book is full of excellent information on creating bird habitat in your garden. Highly recommended to bird lovers.
Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America by Roger Tory Peterson
A field guide to identify those birds showing up in your garden.
Butterflies of Pennsylvania by James L. Monroe and David M. Wright
The definitive butterfly guide for our region. The diversity and beauty of the butterflies are reason enough to own this book.
Caterpillars of Eastern North America by David L. Wagner
A richly illustrated caterpillar guide for our region. Did you know you can hunt for caterpillars with a black light at night?
Bees: An Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide by Heather Holm
A detailed guide on native bees, including their fascinating behavior, their identification, and the plants they rely on.
Wasps by Heather Holm
A guide to native wasps, a misunderstood group of insects. Learn about their fascinating life cycles and how they can benefit your garden.
Flower Flies of Minnesota by Scott King
Flower flies, also known as hoverflies, are common visitors to flowers. As larvae, many flower flies feed on common garden pests such as aphids and thrips. In their adult stage, most mimic bees or wasps in appearance.
Flower Bugs by Angella Moorehouse
By "bugs", this book means true bugs, Hemiptera. Discover these common garden visitors in a new book on the subject.
Dragonflies and Damselflies of Northeast Ohio by Larry Rosche and Judy Semroc (out of print)
There are so many interesting kinds of wildlife to observe in the garden. This out-of-print book demonstrates the wide diversity of dragonflies and damselflies found in our region.
Edible Wild Plants
Wild Plant Culture by Jared Rosenbaum
The best book on foraging we've found so far. It features detailed profiles of a large number of edible wild plants, including tips on preparation, traditional medicinal uses, and research-based information on nutrition and medicine. To identify the edible plants within, you will also want a botanical field guide - and potentially a friend with plant expertise.
The Good Berry Cookbook by Tashia Hart
This author is a member of the Red Lake Anishinaabe, and she interweaves personal history, indigenous harvesting methods, and down-to-earth recipes in her book, which is so much more than just a cookbook.
The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen by Sean Sherman with Beth Dooley
Award-winning chef and member of the Oglala Lakota, Sean Sherman uses only indigenous ingredients in his gourmet recipes, including wild game, cultivated crops, and foraged foods. Native American history and personal stories are interspersed throughout the book.
The Forager Chef's Book of Flora by Alan Bergo
Another cookbook by an award-winning chef. This one has a foraging focus, featuring lavish profiles of edible wild plants, including details on their harvest and flavor profiles. Full of unique, gourmet recipes for the foodie in you.
Native Plant Agriculture by Indigenous Landscapes
This book takes a unique approach to edible native plants, highlighting species that may be suitable for agricultural production. A good fit for someone interested in adding edibles to their garden.
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
As a botany professor and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Robin Wall Kimmerer reflects on our relationship with the rest of the living world through the dual lenses of her scientific training and indigenous cultural knowledge.
Soil: The Story of a Black Mother's Garden by Camille T. Dungy
Camille T. Dungy, a Black poet and professor, recounts her experience creating a meadow around her suburban Colorado home. The story of the meadow winds through thought-provoking reflections on family, race, and the canon of nature writing.
Wildscape by Nancy Lawson
Framed as a journey through the five senses, this book by the author of the Humane Gardener combines cutting edge research on wildlife behavior with poetic observations of the natural world.
A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
A classic of nature writing, this book feels just as relevant now as it did at its publication in 1949. Meditative stories of nature observed and nature lost fill the first two sections of the book. The book culminates with The Land Ethic, an influential treatise on humans as one member of a broader ecological community.
The Nature of Oaks by Doug Tallamy
In this book, the entomologist author of Nature's Best Hope follows an oak tree throughout the year, revealing the abundance of life and activity that depends on a single tree.
The Native Forests of Cuyahoga County, Ohio by Arthur B. Williams (out of print)
Published in 1949, this book describes the pre-settlement forests of Cuyahoga County based on the trees that still remained as well as old timers' recollections. It remains an informative resource about the soils and ecology in and around Greater Cleveland.
The Prairie Peninsula by Guy Denny
With vivid photographs and informative text, this book describes the different types of prairies where they stretch east into Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and southeastern Wisconsin.
Small and wonderfully unique, Ohio's bogs and fens are nothing short of magical. Many are found right here in northeast Ohio! This book explains their glacial origins and ecology while showing off their natural beauty.
Plant Identification Guides
Newcomb's Wildflower Guide by Lawrence Newcomb
Many a botanist's first field guide, this book is useful to novices and experts alike. It offers quick identification of flowers in bloom and covers most of the species in our region. The introduction to the book explains the special indexing system that makes it so handy.
Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast by Peter del Tredici
A great book for the urban botanist, it profiles many under-appreciated "weedy" native plants along with the non-native species that one encounters in a city's tough growing environment.
Field Guide of Michigan Flora by Edward G. Voss and Anton A. Reznicek
This advanced botanical resource covers every seed-bearing plant species found in the wild in Michigan. This covers the majority of species found in our area as well. The Michigan Flora is also available for free online, where there are several photographs of each listed species.
Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual by Noel H. Holmgren
This pricey book is the most comprehensive visual plant identification guide available for our region. Hand-drawn illustrations point out the differences between a huge number of our native species. (It is intended as a companion to this comprehensive botanical manual.)
The Woody Plants of Ohio by E. Lucy Braun
We love a field guide specific to Ohio. Although some species names and groupings have changed since publication, the book is still the definitive guide to identifying the trees, shrubs, and vines of Ohio, and is full of useful ecological information. The terminology is quite advanced, however, so expect to spend some time looking up new words.
The Dicotyledoneae of Ohio, Part 3: Asteraceae by T. Richard Fisher
An Ohio-specific guide to the composite family, which includes plants such as sunflowers, asters, coneflowers, Joe Pye, ironweed, and many more. This book uses quite advanced terminology, but it is still helpful when parsing out hard-to-identify species. (This is part of the never-completed Flora of Ohio project, of which two other volumes are available.)
Goldenrods of Northeast Ohio by Jim Bissell, Steve McKee, and Judy Semroc
A wonderful little book that makes identifying goldenrods easy. (It isn't out of print, but it isn't always easy to secure a copy.)
Midwest Ferns by Steve W. Chadde
Once you master the unique botanical vocabulary used for ferns, they are quite interesting and fun to identify. This book gives ample space to descriptions, photos, and illustrations, which make the task easier.
Sedges of Indiana, Volume 2: The Carex Species by Paul E. Rothrock
Sedges are an attractive grass-like group of plants which are extremely diverse and notoriously hard to identify. If you're feeling up for the challenge, this is the guide you need. The abundant photographs are very helpful, as is the fact that it was written for a neighboring state. (This book covers a single genus called Carex. For the rest of the sedges, check out Volume 1.)
Common Mosses, Liverworts, and Lichens of Ohio by Robert Klips
This new guidebook aims to make a group of notoriously hard-to-identify organisms accessible. It's a large book with many species, but each one is described with affection, and the natural history blurbs and poems are delightful.
Problem Plants of Ohio by Megan E. Griffiths, Melissa A. Davis, and David Ward
This book profiles 148 problem plants, primarily non-native invasives, detailing their biology and dispersal methods. An excellent reference, in spite of the fact that it does not go in depth on removal methods.
Growing from Seed
Growing and Propagating Wildflowers by William Cullina (out of print)
This reference has captivating descriptions of native perennials from East to West coast. Flip to the back, and you'll find useful propagation information for each plant genus in the book.
Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines by Williams Cullina
This book follows the same format as the one above, but it covers trees, shrubs, and vines.
Native Ferns, Moss, and Grasses by Williams Cullina
The final book in this series covers ferns, moss, and grasses. Ferns and moss in particular have special germination needs, so this guide is quite useful.
Growing Trees from Seed by Henry Kock
Probably the most detailed book available about growing native woody plants from seed. It walks the reader through collecting seeds to growing the plants to restoring the landscape itself.