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Silvics of North America

A handbook of trees and their ecology, published by the USDA Forest Service.

Website: https://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/misc/ag_654/table_of_contents.htm

Silvics of North America is a handbook published by the Forest Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The handbook is fully and freely available online, although hard copies of it can also be ordered for $165 per volume.

This resource covers about 200 trees native to the United States and Puerto Rico, mostly native species but also covering a few of the more important introduced species that have become established in the wild. Each species has an article with a range map and information on habitat, life history, and genetics. The focus is on commercially-important species, but it still covers a majority of the most ecologically-important trees in North America.

For species having articles in this resource, these articles represent some of the best and most thorough descriptions of habitat and ecological characteristics available. Where records exist in both systems, the content of this manual overlaps considerably with the articles in the Fire Effects Information System (FEIS) with the obvious distinction that the FEIS has more information on fire ecology.

This resource is outdated: it is the 1990 rework of a 1965 text, and has not been updated since 1990. Although it represents an unparallelled in-depth resource for most of the species it covers, there is a lot of newer research that is not reflected in it. We are unfortunately not aware of any efforts to expand it and bring it up to date, which is puzzling given the massive budget of the USDA and the importance of the topic.