An Invitation

Would you like to contribute to the National Wildland Shrub Manual? Perhaps you have come to know the characteristics of a wildland shrub or have accumulated data about it. Please share that knowledge with others that are studying, using, and protecting the wildlands of our nation by writing a short thamnics description of that shrub. No special academic credentials or professional affiliations are required—only that you understand the shrub you are writing about. The thamnics descriptions are short, concise, and follow a standard outline given below.

Format for Thamnical Descriptions in the National Wildland Shrub Manual

Because of the huge number of species to be treated, limitations of length must be observed. Normally two printed pages is ideal, but it is recognized that a few species demand more space, especially for references. The writing style should be concise and crisp. The entire manuscript will be typed in Times New Roman script. The species’ Latin nomenclature should conform to that given in the USDA Plants database unless the author gives justification within the text of the paper for using another name or form. The shrub will be referred to within the body of the description by the common name that the author feels is most widely used in America; other common names should be mentioned in the General Description section. Other plant species, cited for the first time, should be represented by the full scientific name (italicized), and the author. Subsequent referrals to the same species should use the abbreviated genus followed by species with no author citation, or if they are familiar, by their common name. Insects should be cited with authority. Only the Latin binomial is require for animals or if they are common, the common name. The metric system will be used throughout the document. Please use d.b.h., seeds/kg, percent (not %), to instead of dashes in ranges, Arabic numerals for any measurement, and write out the numbers one through nine for count data. A single space should follow periods and colons.

During the development of thamnical descriptions, please conform to the following outline:

First line: Scientific name with authority on left (in bold); preferred common name on far right (all lower case, not bold).

Second line: Name of family (all caps)

Fourth line and as many following as needed: Synonyms: important botanic synonyms

The above in one column and 12 point

Two spaces

Begin double column format, 10 point, double justified, 0.3 in between columns

The following features are mandatory and appear in this order:

(1) An illustration: a botanical line drawing or a digital or scanned B & W photo to aid in recognition (bitmap, TIFF, or JPEG formats are acceptable). A letter of release should be obtained if copyrighted items are used. For those drawings from non-Forest Service published sources or where recognition is necessary, on the line directly below the figure in 9-point font, inter Illustration (or Photo) credit: name or Illustration source: publication (or website), date. For sourced illustrations, then cite in the References section.

(2) A General Description that may contain such features as other common names, general appearance and size, description of stems, roots, bark, twigs, leaves, flowers, fruits, and other details to give a general impression of the species and to aid in recognition. Points of special interest may be included in this section (eg. This species is the official flower of the U.S. Virgin Islands).

(3) Range, which should include native and naturalized range, may be given as a word description or a map similar to those found in the U.S. Silvics Manual. If a map is used, it should be placed directly opposite the descriptive drawing and should contain a brief legend at the bottom, within the frame [eg: Native range of Tecoma stans (L.) HBK.] and no section heading.

(4) The Ecology section may contain such information as tolerance to shade and other stressing factors, pests and diseases, edaphic and climatic factors required or tolerated, and competitive ability.

(5) Reproduction should cover such items as flowering biology, fruit and seed data, germination requirements, natural reproduction, artificial reproduction including asexual methods.

(6) Growth and Management may cover such information as plantation methods, site preparation to promote natural regeneration, stand protection, weeding, animal management, pest control, rate of accumulation of biomass, age to flowering, and age to senescence. A disclaimer must be footnoted if commercial products are mentioned by name.

(7) Benefits may include any benefit to man, domestic animals, wildlife, and the environment. This section may be headed Benefits and Detriments, if it is appropriate.

(8) The author is given the option of inserting an additional section within the paper when special importance dictates it. Examples are Genetics, Systematic Botany, Pharmaceuticals, and Forage. The special section should be inserted in its most logical place. Figures, other than the two previously listed, and tables are discouraged. Data should be briefly summarized in sentences. Acknowledgments are discouraged for reasons of space. If necessary, they should be placed between the last section and References.

(9) References. It is recognized that the author is the principal authority for the material included, but important references should be cited. Citations are made in the text in the format: (Smith and Jones 1998). If there are more than two authors, the citation will appear as (Smith and others 1999). If multiple citations are given together, arrange them in alphabetical order of the first authors, separated by commas. Personal communications are given in the following form: (personal communication with Joseph Wunderle, IITF, Río Piedras, PR). The author should obtain a letter of release for verbal communication or other unpublished material from another person or should present justification why it is not necessary. Within the reference section, author begins flush left and all following lines are indented 2 spaces.

Arkcoll, D. 1990. New crops from Brazil. In: J. Janick and J.E. Simon, eds. Advances in new Crops. Timber Press, Portland, OR. p. 367-371.

Ewel, J.J. and J.L. Whitmore. 1973. The ecological life zones of Puerto Rico and the U.S.Virgin Islands. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Research Paper ITF-18. Institute of Tropical Forestry, Río Piedras, PR. 72 p.

Little, E.L. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). U.S. Department

of Agriculture, Agriculture Handbook 541. Washington, DC. 375 p.

Morton, J.F. 1966. The cajeput tree: a boon and an affliction. Economic Botany 20: 31-39.

Schmitt, D.M. and C.D. Webb. 1971. Georgia sycamore seed sources in Mississippi

plantings. In: Proceedings, Eleventh Southern Forest Tree Improvement Conference, June

1971, Atlanta, GA. Southern Forest Tree Improvement Committee Sponsored Publication

33. Eastern Tree Seed Laboratory, Macon, GA. p. 113-119.

A line follows this section.

The author’s full name, title of working position, affiliation, and address follow, each item separated by a comma, as shown in sample thamnical descriptions contained on this web page.

Each thamnical description should be checked for spelling and grammar (where possible) as it is word processed (use a late version of Word if possible; Word Perfect is acceptable). Thereafter, descriptions should be reviewed for accuracy by at least one technical reviewer of the author’s choice. Please submit the descriptions by e-mail or computer disk to:


John K. Francis, shrub program coordinator
USDA Shrub Sciences Laboratory
735 North 500 East
Provo, UT 84606



If you have any questions, please direct them to John Francis at jfrancisjr@fs.fed.us or call 801-342-5140. The descriptions will be reviewed by the program coordinator and an editor. If few and only grammatical errors are found, the descriptions will be corrected and posted on the internet website. If serious corrections are needed, the text with suggested corrections will be returned to the author. The author may request changes after a document is posted, if errors are discovered. It is hoped that the lag between submission and posting on the internet will be short.