United States
Department of

Forest Service

Handbook 654
Silvics of North America

Volume 1: Conifers{Silvics of North America, Volume 1}
Click here for Table of Contents
Volume 2: Hardwoods{Silvics of North America, Volume 2}
Click here for Table of Contents-html

Russell M. Burns and Barbara H. Honkala
Technical Coordinators
Timber Management Research

Agriculture Handbook 654

(Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,
Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965)

Forest Service
United States Department of Agriculture

Washington, DC

December 1990

Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, tech. coords. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods. Agriculture Handbook 654.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 p.

The silvical characteristics of about 200 forest tree species and varieties are described. Most are native to the 50 United States and Puerto Rico, but a few are introduced and naturalized. Information on habitat, life history, and genetics is given for 15 genera, 63 species, and 20 varieties of conifers and for 58 genera, 128 species, and 6 varieties of hardwoods. These represent most of the commercially important trees of the United States and Canada and some of those from Mexico and the Caribbean Islands, making this a reference for virtually all of North America. A special feature of this edition is the inclusion of 19 tropical and subtropical species. These additions are native and introduced trees of the southern border of the United States from Florida to Texas and California, and also from Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

Oxford: 174, 181 (082, 7).
Keywords: Silvics; forest types; conifers; hardwoods.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 86-60058.

Cover art: Natural stands of southern pine and cypress bordering a lake in Noxubee County, MS.


"Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States," Agriculture Handbook 271, was the first comprehensive document of its kind in the United States. It was an edited compendium of research papers describing silvical characteristics of 127 trees; the papers had been independently prepared by specialists at U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service experiment stations. The original "silvics manual" took 10 years to complete and was published in 1965.

Our store of silvical and related knowledge has markedly increased since that silvics manual was published 25 years ago. The "Woody-Plant Seed Manual" of 1948 was updated in 1974 and issued as Agriculture Handbook 450, "Seeds of Woody Plants in the United States." New names were added to the literature in 1979 with Agriculture Handbook 541, "Checklist of United States Trees (Native and Naturalized)," which superseded Agriculture Handbook 41. In 1980, the 1954 Society of American Foresters' publication, "Forest Cover Types of the United States and Canada," was revised. A six-volume "Atlas of United States Trees" (U.S. Department of Agriculture Miscellaneous Publications 1146, 1293, 1314, 1342, 1361, and 1410) added tree range maps of most major and minor tree species to the literature. It was both appropriate and timely, therefore, to revise the information in the original silvics manual and to add other native and naturalized trees to the compendium.

"Silvics of North America" describes the silvical characteristics of about 200 conifers and hardwood trees in the conterminous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. Individual articles were researched and written by knowledgeable Forest Service, university, and cooperating scientists. They were reviewed by their counterparts in research and academia. The project took 10 years to complete. The revised manual retains all of the essential material from the original publication, plus new information accumulated over the past quarter of a century. It promises to serve as a useful reference and teaching tool for researchers, educators, and practicing foresters both within the United States and abroad.

Jerry A. Sesco
Deputy Chief for Research

The use of trade names in this publication is for the information and convenience of the reader, and does not constitute official endorsement or approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture of any product to the exclusion of others that may be suitable.

This publication also reports research involving pesticides. It does not contain recommendations for their use, nor does it imply that the uses discussed here have been registered. All uses of pesticides must be registered by appropriate State and/or Federal agencies before they can be recommended.



This handbook is the result of a service wide project of Timber Management Research, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. It is an expansion of "Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States," originally published in 1965, and supersedes that handbook.

Individual papers contained in the two volumes of "Silvics of North America" were written by research foresters at U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service experiment stations and at several universities. Technical content was edited by Russell M. Burns, Silviculturist, and compilation and coordination of the project were by Russell M. Burns and Barbara H. Honkala, Botanist, of Timber Management Research, Washington, DC. Barbara Honkala revised the tree range maps and prepared lists of botanical, bird, and mammal names. Bums and Honkala prepared the glossary and the summary of shade tolerance classes, tree and flowering characteristics, type of seed germination, and order of soils on which trees most commonly grow. Robert L. Lyon, Entomologist, Arthur L. Schipper, and Charles S. Hodges, Jr., Pathologists, Forest Insect and Disease Research, Washington, DC, and Harold H. Burdsall, Jr., Mycologist, Process and Protection Research, Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, WI, reviewed and listed names of insects, mites, and organisms causing tree diseases. William G. Hauser, formerly of the Forest Service Permanent Image Collection, Washington, DC, assisted with the acquisition of photographs. Elbert L. Little, Jr., Dendrologist (retired), assisted in proofreading.

During the last year and a half, the project was directed by Robert D. Wray, Leader, Information Services (retired), North Central Forest Experiment Station. Wray edited the final revisions and guided the book through the production and printing processes. The North Central Station also provided clerical and administrative support during the pre-publication process. Robert P. Schultz, Assistant Director for Research, Southern Forest Experiment Station, served as technical reviewer and advisor for the final revisions.

The entire final proof was proofread under the direction of Mary Peterson and Barbara Winters, assisted by Gayla Conners, Rose Berg, Patricia Halter, Phyllis Moline, and Rita Ronning-all of the North Central Forest Experiment Station. Personnel from the various Forest Service Experiment Stations carefully monitored the final revision and review of the chapters emanating from their Stations. Notable among these were: Margaret Buchanan, Northeastern Station; Louise Foley, Southeastern Station; Carlow Lowe and Jody Jones, Southern Station; Robert Hamre and Wayne Shepperd, Rocky Mountain Station; Richard Klade, Intermountain Station; Martha Brookes, Pacific Northwest Station; and Sandra Young, Pacific Southwest Station.

Volume II can be ordered from the following address:
National Technical Information Service
5285 Port Royal Road
Springfield, VA 22161

Phone: 1-800-553-6847 or 703-605-6000
Email: info@ntis.gov

NTIS Order Number: PB91-201830 INZ
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