Read The Tree: A Natural History of What Trees Are, How They Live & Why They Matter by Colin Tudge Online


There are redwoods in California that were ancient by the time Columbus first landed, and pines still alive that germinated around the time humans invented writing. There are Douglas firs as tall as skyscrapers, and a banyan tree in Calcutta as big as a football field.From the tallest to the smallest, trees inspire wonder in all of us, and in The Tree, Colin Tudge travelsThere are redwoods in California that were ancient by the time Columbus first landed, and pines still alive that germinated around the time humans invented writing. There are Douglas firs as tall as skyscrapers, and a banyan tree in Calcutta as big as a football field.From the tallest to the smallest, trees inspire wonder in all of us, and in The Tree, Colin Tudge travels around the world—throughout the United States, the Costa Rican rain forest, Panama and Brazil, India, New Zealand, China, and most of Europe—bringing to life stories and facts about the trees around us: how they grow old, how they eat and reproduce, how they talk to one another (and they do), and why they came to exist in the first place. He considers the pitfalls of being tall; the things that trees produce, from nuts and rubber to wood; and even the complicated debt that we as humans owe them.Tudge takes us to the Amazon in flood, when the water is deep enough to submerge the forest entirely and fish feed on fruit while river dolphins race through the canopy. He explains the “memory” of a tree: how those that have been shaken by wind grow thicker and sturdier, while those attacked by pests grow smaller leaves the following year; and reveals how it is that the same trees found in the United States are also native to China (but not Europe).From tiny saplings to centuries-old redwoods and desert palms, from the backyards of the American heartland to the rain forests of the Amazon and the bamboo forests, Colin Tudge takes the reader on a journey through history and illuminates our ever-present but often ignored companions. A blend of history, science, philosophy, and environmentalism, The Tree is an engaging and elegant look at the life of the tree and what modern research tells us about their future....

Title : The Tree: A Natural History of What Trees Are, How They Live & Why They Matter
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781400050369
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 480 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Tree: A Natural History of What Trees Are, How They Live & Why They Matter Reviews

  • Lynn
    2018-11-23 18:03

    Did you know that trees communicate with one another using electric pulses? Did you know that when animals nibble on trees they chemically warn neighbor trees? Or that trees will help feed nearby sickly trees? No, I did not either. If you find these facts interesting you will like this book. Reading this revealing account of the inner life of trees makes me realize the movie Avatar is less fiction than I thought.

  • Bryn
    2018-12-06 22:02

    Mixing history, biology, botany, natural history, philosophy and politics, this is quite some read! It is intensely written, laden with facts and ideas, and is best consumed slowly as there's a great deal to get to grips with. It rewards patience however, and is one of the best things I've read in a while. Thoroughly recomended, if you like books you can really get your teeth into.

  • Michal Wigal
    2018-11-14 19:47

    The first 100 pages contain everything you've ever wanted to know about trees. The next 200 pages contain everything you've never wanted to know about trees. The final 100 pages are a pretty informative look at how humans use trees and the role they can play in climate change.

  • AudioBookReviewer
    2018-11-20 19:53

    My original The Tree: A Natural History of What Trees Are, How They Live & Why They Matter audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.The Tree: A Natural History of What Trees Are, How They Live, and Why They Matter by Colin Tudge doesn’t list that it is an ordered history of trees. But, the lack of order makes this book less a factual text than winding inquiry. If you’ve ever walked into a forest and started asking the big questions, and started answering them, you’ll get a feel for how this book works. At eight minutes shy of twenty hours, the book is comprehensive, but not cumbersome. I listened to the book on my way up and down a bike trail that stretches a marathon’s distance to a 13 story bridge that spans the Des Moines River valley. I started paying attention to the trees on the way up and down that trail in a different way. I didn’t start recognizing trees and start spouting Latinate names, but gained an appreciation for the difficulty one has in giving names to living things’ relationships.The book asks direct questions with few words that lead to graduate-level philosophic answers rooted in facts. I’m paraphrasing, but some of the questions include: How do we define a tree? Why isn’t a banana plant a tree? Why are there different names for the same tree? Tudge is both thorough and clever with his answers. As I listened to the book I found myself longing to speak to other people and ask them what they thought. Where textbook chapters represent pieces of a large body of information, The Tree takes a single idea, and expands, builds, and welcomes divergent ideas.One divergent idea is the move from appreciating trees as an environmentalist advocate might, because humans would die without them. Instead, like Muir, Tudge humanizes trees and their plight against other evils besides humans. We don’t often think trees have natural predators. Tudge adds a wisdom that trees have in working with other tree species and animal to survive. Trees are cooperative, dynamic, and on a time scale greater than our human lifetimes.Should you invest in this book? It depends on what you hope to get out of a comprehensive history. If you want efficiency in learning about trees, the book will disappoint. It is not a textbook or guide. But if you can let go of efficiency, listen on headphones while walking through trees or closing your eyes in a concrete urban place, you will find yourself asking to bring others into the story. The book is vibrant with detail, soaked in clever language, and solid with a scientist’s backing. In short, The Tree is long on what makes audiobooks brilliant, a chance to relax and just let someone else talk without wanting or trying to interrupt.After this long journey alone with The Tree, you may want to take the next audiobook trek with a human. I recommend Hiking Through by Paul Stutzman narrated by Mike Chamberlain or Lab Girl, written and narrated by Hope Jahren.Narrator ReviewBe prepared to relax, there is no hurry in this Scottish narrator’s voice and he takes his commas and periods seriously. At first, you’ll notice the narrator, his cadence contrasts that of most audiobooks, but gradually he becomes a cooling tree’s shadow. Most good books begin in media res, the middle of the action. With a book like this, Enn Reitel becomes the great asset, letting the listener know it is a twenty-hour hike, no need to sprint at the start. Soon after you put the headphones in, he becomes funny, in an understated way, hitting the scientific punchlines Tudge wrote expertly. You’re walking through the forest with your new best friend upset to leave at the end.Audiobook was provided for review by the publisher.

  • Paula
    2018-12-08 20:56

    My current writing obsession is trees, which, of course, requires that I read about trees. I found Colin Tudge's compendium to be comprehensive & utterly fascinating (I admit to nodding off a bit while reading the more technical chapters in which he surveys trees as botanically classified into order, family, & genus--at the same time I was intrigued by many unexpected relationships among both herbaceous & woody species). Although Tudge doesn't mention Canadian tree ecologist Diana Beresford-Krueger, his comments on the necessity of intelligent forestry & sustainable tree cropping (past & future) & their foundational importance to human culture & sustenance on Planet Earth, reminded me of Beresford-Krueger's The Global Forest, another favorite read of recent times. Along with another recent read, Charles Mann's 1491, The Tree also caused me to pause & reconsider received notions of both wilderness & the human shaping & management of what we call Nature. I recalled a comment I read long ago (either one made by Joseph Chilton Pierce or Joseph Campbell) that humans' natural home is the Garden, not the Wilderness. Pushing that conclusion even further, I've had to consider the possibility that wilderness may be more mythical than "natural." At the same time, it is important to acknowledge that it is trees, not human beings, that are "ultimately controlling all life on land."

  • Adam
    2018-11-20 15:57

    Colin Tudge attracted my attention for having written several books about diverse subjects I am fascinated by, not the least of which is trees. In 'The Tree,' Tudge lives up to that promise, proving himself a very likable man who thinks about the world in many ways similarly to the way I do. This is in general a boon, but can be a downfall. The book has no real goal, no thesis, no object. It is a well-organized series of writings about the trees of the world, including explanations of many facets of what it means to be a tree, portraits of individual trees, and a broad survey of all the tree phyla in the modern world. This middle section seems to have been largely a mistake. The rest of the book proceeds in narrative form through a number of very interesting aspects of the ecology, physiology, evolution, and human relevance of trees. The phylogeny, however, stifles the narrative voice and forces boring listing. I didn't read it, suffice it to say, so I perhaps shouldn't knock it too much. But it reminded me in format much of The Kingdom Fungi, which fell prey to the same impulse. The impulse is noble and I share it: rather than discuss the variety of trees in the world in a series of random groupings, it should be done phylogenetically, to emphasize the relationships among trees. And if you're going about it phylogenetically, you might as well include all the major phyla of trees . . . But how can you provide anything very interesting about all of them, and present all this knowledge in a meaningful way? The answer seems to be that you can't, really. This kind of knowledge, broad but particular, of the whole group of things we call "trees," must be earned through a lifetime of observation, a lifetime of meeting trees. It can't be condensed and transferred in even 150 pages. And it most certainly can't be done without pictures! This is perhaps what killed the middle of the book - there are no pictures to give the reader a taste of the phyla described. The rest of the book, which I read entirely, was great, as I've said. Tudge includes a lot of details, but condenses them into a form that is intuitive and dense with information without becoming slow to read. Much that could have been included was left out - a more in-depth look at the relationship between trees and humans in history, a la A Forest Journey: The Story of Wood and Civilization, or more detailed coverage of tree ecology, focusing on things like mycorrhizae, or more adequate coverage of tree physiology, including some nice diagrams, like Botany for Gardeners. I could think of dozens of others. The book is very long and quite valuable as it is, but such topics would have better suited Tudge's style (and, I think, the style of books other than field guides and coffee table books in general) than what he chose to do in the middle section of the book.I very much appreciate the fact that Tudge chose to close the book with a serious look at the relationship between the social structure of our civilization and the ecological health of the planet, principally seen, in this, from the point of view of trees. While the fact that the treatment of the issue is necessarily superficial, it acknowledges there is a very big problem in the world of trees, and that it is rooted in economics and culture. Tudge emphasizes, quite astutely, that if that problem can be 'solved,' then many other problems will be solved along with it - exploitation of workers, the indigenous, and poor nations; the food issue; the energy issue; the decline of coherent local communities; etc. It would have been easy for Tudge (or his editors) to say 'let this be a happy book about trees; don't bring up all those controversial bad things - save that for another book.' That he did not indicates some extra goodness in his soil [typo?].

  • Mark
    2018-11-18 15:53

    Who doesn't like trees? Despite that popularity, it is easy to have a rather lopsided understanding of why they matter. Global warming is constantly in the news, so it is commonly known that trees sequester carbon, and so have a beneficial cooling effect on the earth. We know that the roots of trees hold soil in place, and that trees can absorb an enormous quantity of water. So they have a moderating effect on variations of weather. But how many people can identify all the trees found in a local park?That's a big change from the past, when so many trades involved trees and their by-products that lots of people could identify many species and describe their best uses. Colin Tudge's book describes many uses of individual species of trees, and also explains their biology and natural history, their cultivation and their cultural significance. Along the way we get an armchair tour through anatomy, genetics, taxonomy, ecology, forestry practices, economy and nearly everything else having to do with trees. He answers some questions that some people may not have thought to ask. For example, why are there relatively few species of trees in a northern forest, especially when compared to the variation found in the tropics? (Greater tropical variation in species happens in all other kingdoms, too.) But while you may not ask it in that form, you may have looked at a piece of furniture at Ikea and wondered what on earth it was made of, assuming not of plastic. There are more kinds of trees than most of us can possibly imagine, and now they're all being used for one thing or another. The products are shipped all over the place.The book is organized into four sections, although the fourth is really an epilogue. The first describes what separates trees from other plants-so taxonomy-and their physiology and evolution. The second section is a one-hundred-forty-page-tour- de-force description of all the trees left in the world, divided up by their taxonomies. In the third section, Tudge describe ecology and reproduction, including the many ways that people have inadvertently or purposefully screwed that up for trees, usually by transporting competitors or pests into an ecological system. In the fourth section, Tudge demonstrates two things: first, that trees interact deeply with political and economic outcomes, and second, that he is happy to oversimplify and generalize such issues to arrive at some weirdly new-age happy talk. For example,"I don't believe the world can get significantly better if we leave politics to career politicians. That is not what democracy means. I also nurse the conceit (for which there is abundant evidence) that human beings are basically good...It seems to follow that if only democracy can be made to work-if the will of humanity as a whole can prevail-then the world could be a far better place: that it could, after all, come through these next few difficult decades...And so he joins Einstein in demonstrating that some scientists shouldn't quit their day jobs to seek elected office. Despite that, the book is terrific, and even the fourth section has lots of interesting, if utopian, perspectives. Read it as you long for spring!

  • Elentarri
    2018-11-22 19:43

    Hmmmmmm..... I have mixed feelings about this book. There is a lot of information about Trees and the writing style isn't bad, but the middle section is rather tedious. The book has a few black and white sketches/illustrations of trees. My edition of the book [ISBN 9780307395399] also has very thin pages (maybe recycled) and a flimsy cover. If you are buying this you may want to get a different edition or the hardcover version.The book is divided into parts:Part 1: What is a Tree? Explains what a tree is and its structure. This section is very interesting. Part 2: All the Trees in the World. Description of tree classification and trees. Long and tedious. Reminds me of a botany text book without all the coloured photographs.Part 3: The Life of Trees. Describes how trees function, includes photosynthesis, water transfer from roots to leaves, nutrients in the soil, micorrhizae, growth, hormone function, reproduction, pollination, symbiosis, photoperiodism, and biogeagraphy. This is also a very interesting section that is nicely explained - the best part of the book in my opinion. Part 4: Trees and Us. Concluding section that provides food for thought about our relationship with trees and the earth.If all you are after is how trees function then I recommend Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon. Botany for Gardeners Otherwise, The Tree by Colin Tudge is a nice addition to the reference library.

  • J.V. Connors
    2018-11-27 23:00

    If you love trees, this book is a must-read, for it will astound you! This fascinating book uses trees to illuminate evolution and the ways the life works in the world, so in the end, you learn a lot more than just about trees.Colin Tudge also teaches us about the incredible strength and complexity of trees. We learn about how trees communicate with each other and interact with other plants and animals in their environment. He tells how they cope with adversity, cooperate and even help each other.Human beings have worshiped our own great brains and driving ambitions, but look at what we have done to our planet over our 50,000 years of existence! Trees build soil, improve rain and water ecologies, and provide habitat for hundreds of species. Perhaps we need to refocus our attention on nature, on how it builds and heals itself?The Tree is a wonderful way to learn about this essential group of species with fascination, respect and humor.

  • Jason
    2018-12-11 16:00

    The book does not quite live up to the title, being largely a survey of the classification system with some occasional pieces of interesting information thrown in. I was expecting to have some more in detail explanation of how trees work from the inside. But perhaps that would not be popular science. It did not help that I read the book on the Kindle which is not very good for illustrations and tables.

  • Samuel
    2018-11-20 18:05

    It's not as good as the cover made it out to be, and it's certainly not a natural history classic, but it's a fun, well-written overview. Part of the problem, I think, is that the task that Tudge set out for himself in surveying all the world's trees is so vast that either the book needed to be much longer, or the project needed to be toned down considerably. There's just not enough detail for this to be really excellent.

  • Tassos
    2018-11-10 22:48

    Another recommendation from a friend from far far away. A true tree lover. And it seems that I receive very good recommendations lately.The book starts by explaining some basic things about what trees are, how they evolved to be what they are and how they are categorised into species, families and so on. Then there is an extensive part of the book talking about all the different categories of trees (that I more or less skipped) in order to go to the most interesting part of the book: Trees' relationships with each other and with other organisms.This book made me remember my old love for trees (specially for fig trees, since I more or less grew up on top of a fig tree) and helped me understand the tremendous role that trees have in the ecosystem. It also provides with very detailed insights on the way trees reproduce with a few fascinating examples.It's quite well written, with enough humor here and there. After a while the language structure becomes a bit too repetitive but this is overshadowed by the information that is provided.

  • Fernleaf
    2018-11-27 22:41

    An interesting treatise on trees around the world. Roughly divided into three sections. The first deals with definitions, naming, evolution and what really defines trees from other plants (wood) with lots of little trivia thrown in. The middle section is a broad survey of the world's tree diversity following the taxonomic tree. This part is fairly dry with LOTS of latin names as it's primarily dealing with trees at the order, family, and genus level. Relevant common names and references are thrown in wherever possible but just because of the scope that isn't always available. Having taken a couple of botany courses I was able to follow most of it, but a layperson is probably going to feel a bit lost and/or spend a lot of time with Wikipedia or another internet source to make the names more tangible. The final section deals with both general tree biology and the future of trees (climate change, logging, importance of trees to humanity.) Very interesting information but not the most friendly sit-down-and-read book.

  • Peter Mcloughlin
    2018-12-04 17:49

    I really enjoyed this one. A great popular science book on trees. It explains kinds of trees, Life cycle, anatomy and biology. It does so in a lyrical way often digressing into parts about how trees were used in history and there are many references to other fields like philosophy, history, and art. A very pleasurable read and I now can tell a dicot from a monocot.Update February 22, 2017 On listening to this book on audible years later I got much more out of it. With a proviso, readers will like the first part and the last part a great deal and will benefit much from the information, however the middle part which attempts to list and describe every kind of tree in the taxonomy of trees a bit long and drawn out and not helpful. If one persists to the end this book is definitely worth it. I learned a great deal in the latter third of the book about the workings of trees and how they fit in the scheme of evolution and ecology.

  • Pollyanna Darling
    2018-11-11 20:52

    Only truly passionate botanists and foresters will love the majority of this book, which is an in depth discussion of the characteristics of the many species of trees that bless our planet. HOWEVER, the last two sections of the book: The Life of Trees and Trees and Us, should be compulsory reading for all humans. Colin weaves a beautiful and disturbing picture of the future of the planet, should we allow our forests and wild trees to be destroyed. He also presents a clear vision of the world we could create if we change our ingrained views (ie. that humans must live primarily on cereals, or that dairy cows have to live on grass) and take action to preserve trees. Without our forests, only the most adaptable organisms on earth will survive. I'm not keen on a future that includes mainly bacteria, viruses and fungi. Are you?

  • Maddy
    2018-12-02 23:56

    I learned so much fascinating shit from this book. Wasps and figs, why deciduous leaves turn brown in autumn, why so many plants in the rainforests colour their new growth red, natural history, how awesome conifers are, the crazy ingenous root system of redwoods. I even learned more about eucalypts, which I knew pretty damn well already (on account of having several hundred in the few acres around me). The prose is often clunky (e.g. 'Still, though, it is not true, as has often been argued of late, that...') and select sentences are very awkward to read: Tudge is obviusly a scientist first and an author second. But that doesn't take away from the overall value of the book. The structure is odd, and I think the tree families are given too much time - or perhaps too little that makes them engaging. Overall, though, I really appreciated this one.

  • Marcia
    2018-11-24 17:01

    This isn't a book that you pick up and read in one sitting. There is a lot of information, and it is worth savouring. You might think that a book all about trees would be boring, but this book is far from it. It written not only very accessibly, but also beautifully. I thought the beginning and the end of the book were the best parts, with more general information about trees. The lengthy middle section contains a description of nearly all the types of trees that exist, and while its impossible to retain all of this information, it did give me an appreciation for trees and just how various, amazing and important they are. This book also gives one a deeper appreciation of how inextricably connected our existence as humans is with the existence of trees. A very enjoyable read...this one deserves a place amongst the other classic nature books on my shelves.

  • Drew
    2018-11-10 19:58

    I loved this book but it is so detailed that I had to skip over several sections; there was no way I'd remember all of the details. On the other hand, I'll treasure this book as a reference for later. If I want to know more about the rose family, I know exactly where I'll go first. Tudge offers wonderful descriptions of what I assume are all the families of trees. It makes for much less dry reading than an encyclopedia would. Regarding the final chapter: I can't stop thinking about how Tudge details the importance of trees and I appreciate his enthusiasm for hope in the planet's future being tree-based. But I find it hard to be as confident as he is considering the challenges we face and our desire for the easy way out.

  • Erica
    2018-12-11 21:03

    Well, the author is extraordinarily knowledgeable and passionate about trees and I learned a great deal while reading this book. Unfortunately, he's overly chatty in a way that feels like he presumes much about our relationship, mainly that the reader will find him all sorts of witty and wonderful. Ugh. It could be a personality conflict-I love Nicholas Basbanes and he tends to do the same thing, though I don't find myself considering him a twit. At any rate, the short version: lots of interesting information and an overly verbose author. If anyone wants this book, let me know. I'm not inclined to keep it, even as a reference tool.

  • jrendocrine
    2018-11-18 18:42

    I turned to this after reading Hope Jahrens' Lab Girl, thinking that my tree knowledge was nonexistent. This was a start... but..Didn't matter that I read this on the Kindle - there were not enough pictures. The documentation of taxonomy is excessive without pictures and diagrams. The science was tantalizing but not enough.Same for how trees are used.Overall, got me interested in botany. I have bought a freshman botany textbook, and will read it, and this is the best recommendation I can give Tudge's idea book which might have been better as a long essay. (Although if I was walking through any botanical garden or forest, I would love to walk alongside the author.)

  • Linnaea
    2018-12-09 18:49

    I listened to this after The Secret Life of Trees. Tudge has a very informative book about trees- almost too informative. The first part is about the different types of trees, be prepared there are a lot of trees in the world.

  • Kim Zinkowski
    2018-12-08 17:52


  • Stef
    2018-11-30 21:39

    well written but very intense in information. Lots of interesting things about trees and lots and lots of tree names.

  • Nicole M.
    2018-11-26 16:55

    The Tree is a fantastic, if foreboding, tome of information about those plants we call trees. It starts from zero, explaining the most basic of questions--What is a tree?--and going from there. It is, admittedly dense, and packed with information; that's not to say, however, that it's not readable. After teaching the basic history of plants, the basic physiology of plants, and the basic components of trees, it moves to a section with the tall order of describing ALL THE TREES IN THE WORLD.The ALL THE TREES IN THE WORLD section (I feel it deserves ALL CAPS because it was just completely overwhelming to me) does describe, more or less, all the different types of tree in the world by breaking them down into orders and families. (Of course not listing each individual species, which would be quite literally impossible). Those the prose is nice, this section could really use some illustrations! Goodness--I know I'm not an expert, but I really don't think any average person could read this section (despite its having written description) and feel that they've really become any more familiar with trees, if they had no prior knowledge about them. However, some tidbits are fascinating, and some families are easier to learn than others.The final sections of the book talk about the importance of trees in our lives--something which seems to be lost on many people, even myself until lately. Hell, if not for trees, we would not have this paper book to read about trees.All in all, quite good.

  • Alexander Gaigole
    2018-12-02 16:57

    A great book to start learning about the world of trees, from the simple fact that what is diff between a tree and other plants ,to how they communicate, have evolved (A nice insight for me) and our responsibility towards them

  • Nola
    2018-11-25 23:37

    The Tree starts out with a simple question: what is trees, which like many simple questions, is very difficult to answer. I would have a hard time coming up with a definition. Colin Tudge explains why it is difficult and comes up with a practical working definition of a tree. Then he goes into why tree forms work and how trees interact with the environment. Next he gives an overview of the state of the art in estimating the number of species of trees and their classification and then a history of their evolution and then their structure.The second part of the book goes through the classification of trees from the first part, and goes into detail on some of the trees within the classifications. “The grandest of the grand is Tane Mahuta: it is 51.5 meters tall, its lowest branches are nearly 18 meters above the ground, and its trunk is 13.77 meters in girth-nearly 4.5 meters in diameter-which means it would touch all four wall if planted in an average suburban living room…Tane Mahuta is reckoned to be 1,500 years old. The last part of the book goes into detail about the ecology of various types of trees throughout the world, and, as the preface says, it is about the uses that humans make of them and why they must be conserved.The book is written with great clarity and far-reaching knowledge. The preface articulates very well the purpose of the book: “Science in the service of appreciation, and appreciation in the service of reverence, which, in the face of wonders that are not of our making, is our only proper response.” The author accomplished this by finding and identifying fascinating trees and by finding words that can convey the uniqueness and variety of tree species. It would be easy to make this book a boring list of trees or clumsy explanations that make the eyes glaze over, but that didn’t happen. Tudge starts to get a bit parenthetical at times, but that didn’t quite get to the point that it slowed the book down.

  • Jeff Van Campen
    2018-12-11 20:56

    This is a fairly comprehensive overview of the trees of the world and trees in the world. It is divided into four sections.The first is a general introduction to trees, including some quick schooling on the biology and evolution of trees.The second section is a whirlwind -- but still fairly lengthy -- tour of the all the plant families that contain trees. While all families are covered, the focus on specific trees within those families. Tudge's choices here are idiosyncratic, and we are treated to fascinating facts and various personal encounters with the trees in question. There is also a very strong emphasis on the recent changes in taxonomy and systematics.The third section -- any my personal favourite -- focuses on how trees are adapted to their natural environment. The stand out chapter of this section discussed the relation ship between fig trees, wasps and nematodes. It is used to demonstrate the complexity of trees' relationships with other organsims, but it would stand very well on it's own. In fact, if you find yourself getting a bit overwhelmed by the long list of trees in section two, I'd recommend that you skip to this section before you put down the book.The forth section examines the relationship between trees and one organism in particular: human beings. This section feels very much like Tudge's earlier book So Shall We Reap. The arguments -- that our use of natural resouces needs to be more balanced -- are the same. In this case those arguments are applied to forestry rather than agriculture. The section -- and the book -- ends with a review of the global warming, emphasising how important trees are in efforts to counter climate change.

  • Nicholas Whyte
    2018-12-10 19:38

    I was frankly disappointed. The biggest section of the book, 150 pages of the 400, is a gazetteer of tree genera and families; it would actually have been better presented as an alphabetical encyclopedia - the narrative style doesn't really suit this sort of information (at least, not the way Tudge writes). The final section starts by insisting that humanity must return to an agrarian existence, though without any realistic agenda as to how this might happen (or even convincing reasoning as to why). He also misses two important chances at the beginning: first, the very question of 'What is a tree?' could actually lead to interesting speculations about definitions and the history and philosophy of science, but does not do so here; and second, I would really have liked a lot more about the biology and paleontology behind the single most startling thing I learned from the book, which is that plants have evolved tree structures over and over again (rather than all trees being descended from one ancestral tree and all non-trees being descended from other ancestors).Apart from that fascinating though underdeveloped point, there are bits and pieces of interest - I had not realised that teak and ash are closely related not just to each other but to mint, basil and rosemary (and there are numerous similar examples); his chapter on the relations between figs and wasps is the best in the book (though even that got a bit confused with nematode worms and dodos); and I enjoyed the occasional glimpses of travelogue to see particular trees and wished there had been more of them.But I'd be rather surprised if this is the best book about trees out there.

  • Christopher
    2018-11-11 18:06

    The Finacial Times described this book as a love letter to trees and its a statement that I definitly agree with. Colin Tudge describes trees from almost every angle that you can look or think about trees.The book takes you through the evolution of trees to the all the various species that now exist on the planet and then to how they live and communicat with eachother and the enviroment and then to what they mean to us the human raceEvery chapter was facinating epecially the chapter on "The life of Trees" which delved in to the amazing symbiotic relationships between wasps and the fig tree which is really an amazing little story. Also on how differnt trees adapt to especially stressful enviromental factors was a section I found really great. Part 2 i did find a bit of a chore because alot of it was just listing the differnt species and saying maybe a few lines on each one. But with some species there was more information and there was some gems of information on certain intresting species.I would reccomend this book to anybody who is looking for a book in teh subject of nature that they want to find interesting and meaningful. It is well worth reading and my adive to anybody thinking of reading it is to not get bogged down in part two with all the "listing" as it is all relevant in the final two parts which have the real juicy bits :D

  • Robert
    2018-12-05 16:05

    An incredibly fascinating book about trees but could also be treated as a good intro to botany for the layperson (it lays the groundwork first for understanding plants before studying the woody species). I learnt how plants evolved, how they work, how they communicate, how they affect and are affected by their environment; and how incredibly diverse trees are. That last bit is possibly the books only downfall: the mid-section is an inventory of all the major genuses of tree in the world. Some particular specimens are quite interesting but a good chunk of it is a list of latin names. The best sections are those concerning tree physiology, how they respond to predators and seasonal cycles.Colin Tudge knows his subject well and is very enthusiastic. As someone who likes to learn the boring details, I'm also glad that it appears that he has not been asked to "dumb down" the text for wider appeal.