Book Review: trees a visual guide by Tony Rodd and Jennifer Stackhouse

Posted on August 3, 2012. Filed under: Book Reviews, Trees | Tags: , |

Trees are the bees knees!  (Yes, yes, I know left brain it sounds silly but I’m waxing* poetic or at least very silly.)

(*Yes that’s a bee pun!)

I’ve been spending time this summer as part of my Summer of Tree Love getting to know them including reading all kinds of tree related books.   I’m particularly excited about the latest book I’ve read about the subject – trees a visual guide by Tony Rodd and Jennifer Stackhouse

One of the big reasons is that it has many, many…more than a few…beautiful and inspiring pictures of trees!

More than a picture book though, it is also a lite botany book focused on trees.   In particular, it is a form and function focused book and not a tree identification book, although it has a nice reference section on 99 individual trees.

It’s broken down by thematic chapters:

  • A world of trees:  a basic overview of what constitutes a tree, the evolutionary history of trees as well as considerations of climate
  • Form and function: One of my favorite sections which goes into the essence of the parts of the tree, its reproduction, environment and the external factors affecting them (soil, predators, etc.)
  • Diversity of design:  How the different types of trees express the elements above and deal with their environment
  • Communities of life:  the natural world that develops around the differing community of trees – other plants, animals, fungi, etc.
  • Trees and the human world:  how we use trees in society historically and currently
  • An indispensable resource:  Trees immense value to the life on the planet as a whole
  • Factfile:  Nice sum up of leave type, tree appearance and families

Which really covers the bases well.

There are little touches throughout like have to scale icons of people next to trees to illustrate the sizes which is a marvelous nice quick visual aid that I wish other tree books would do. And it is filled with moments where you learn new things.  I periodically thought “wow I didn’t know that”, “oh interesting”, “now it makes sense”, etc.   Plus did I mention the many nifty pictures?

Now I’ll grant that it doesn’t talk about the medicinal properties of trees but I still think it is interesting and valuable for herbal folks.    It can be pretty easy to just focus on the medicinal uses of the plants but I feel you can work with best them by understanding them better which means a little botany and this is a very painless introduction to that topic.  On that note, I’d also recommend Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon which is an amazing book – both books work well together.

Yes, someone will no doubt be raising their hand going Botany in a Day by Thomas Elpel which is another very nifty book but that is oriented toward botany for identification which is great but I like that these two are more form and function.  It’s the difference between just knowing someone’s height, weight and name – and actually knowing something about them.

I think it is important for herbalists (and folks who love plants in general) to really know more about plants and not just how to ID them and use them.  It is a more respectful approach to them spiritually as well IMO.

Anyway…I definitely recommend this one.  It’s pretty, informative and fun – how many books can say that?

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3 Responses to “Book Review: trees a visual guide by Tony Rodd and Jennifer Stackhouse”

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This looks great, thanks for the recommendation!

Sounds like an interesting book – I like that it covers the relationship of trees to the rest of the natural environment, and their place in the human world.

Can’t imagine a life without the company of Trees!

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