Trees have long been special to us, not only for their innate beauty and character, but also through the ages they have been central to human existence in numerous ways. They provide us with vital ingredients for life – food, medicine, building materials, resins and spices, even the oxygen we breathe.
Ecologically they are crucial in controlling pollution and moderating climate, and culturally they have great significance in religion, folklore and art. Increasingly, it has also been shown that as well as greening our lives they can improve our health and mental well-being.
More than 60,000 species of trees are found in an amazing variety of forms, sizes and habitats. Every tree has its own story and here are over 60, selected for their particular resonance and connection with humankind – revealing their ecological, historical and cultural significance and representing most of the world’s major zones and climates.
In portraits that combine vivid cultural and historical narrative with a firm scientific grounding, the authors reveal the details of trees from around the world, both familiar and strange – from the timber of mahogany to the delights of chocolate and pomegranate, from the medicinal tea tree to the deadly manchineel, and from fragrant frankincense to the highly prized dragon’s blood tree.
Artists and botanists alike have been inspired by trees for centuries, and a varied and beautiful range of images from the unrivalled archive at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew illustrate the stories, to create this enlightening and enchanting book.
...exquisite book...intricate and expressive illustrations...crowned with intriguing, little-known facts. 5/5. Juanita Coulson, The Lady
Tony Kirkham is Kew’s Head of Arboretum, Gardens and Horticultural Services where he and his team manage 14,000 trees and share their passion for trees with the visitors to Kew. He is the author of several books on horticulture including, as co-author, Wilson's China: A Century On. Christina Harrison is the editor of Kew Magazine. She trained as a biologist and botanist, and her books include Bizarre Botany.