With about 1800 native species of trees in southern Africa, plus several hundred more that have been introduced, the challenge of identifying even a small portion of these is a problem for botanists and laymen alike. Most tree identification guides require one to be familiar with the family from which a particular tree comes, but the authors have developed 43 groups into which trees can be categorised, according to easy-to-observe characters, such as leaf shape and form, presence or absence of thorns or prickles, or whether or not latex is present. By utilizing their simple and logical way of looking at trees, it is possible to arrive at a likely family and, from there, to move towards positive species identification. The title starts by defining key characters, such as leaf arrangement and venation pattern, before considering secondary identification characters such as bark, seeds, fruit and flowers. Once one has an understanding of what to look for when examining a new tree, it is possible to move on to the 43 groups for a more detailed breakdown of the defining characters.
Using iconic graphics, full-colour photographs and distribution maps, the text takes the reader through a logical process of tree identification.