Native, would you mind offering your recommendations of the best books in your collection. Thanks.
I'm still looking for that perfect book myself.
A good book for beginners is "Forest Plants of the Southeast and their Wildlife Uses" (by Miller and Miller). The pictures are very good, and the information is accurate with good academic background.
Another book I use a lot is "Weeds of the South" (by Bryson and DeFelice). The pictures are small, but they do give some different stages of plant growth, and I really like the fact that a range map is included for each plant. This book is geared more toward farmers.
I have some others, but these are good starting books.
Once you are able to ID a plant, you can generally go to Web Sites of Universities that support farming and find some pretty good information. You can't trust much you read anywhere concerning apples, rootstocks, etc. anymore, but weed information is pretty good. I had an old thread that told why this is, but I won't get into that here.
Google Scholar is not that user friendly, but still a good tool. You just have to know what to believe and what to take with a grain of salt when you find something. If money is involved, over 90% of what you read might be the truth, but not "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth." Partial truth can be worse than having nothing at all. But, sometimes you can find old articles on it from years ago that are really good.
Here is a pretty good link that has excellent pics, but not a great deal more.