Since trees are an important element in many landscapes knowing how to care for them is critical for success. Peter Thomas’ book, Trees: Their Natural History, is an excellent resource for understanding the structure, physiology, and life of trees so that the best possible choices can be made for the cultivation of trees. Written for a non-technical audience it is very readable while at the same time being comprehensive and rigorous.
After an overview of tree biology in the first chapter, four chapters are devoted to the structure of leaves, stem, roots, and flowers and fruits. We learn how leaves are modified to produce food, deal with water loss, and change color; how bark accommodates increasing girth of the trunk and how water rises in from roots to canopy; how mycorrhizas help tree roots; and how flowers and fruits are modified to ensure generations of trees for the future. Subsequent chapters consider how trees grow and the factors that effect their shape, the germination and early survival of seedlings, asexual reproduction, and the diseases, pests, and mechanical damage that threaten the life of a tree.
Diagrams, photographs, graphs and charts liberally enhance the text. The use of diagrams is outstanding and adds enormously to an understanding of the text. The black and white photographs are variable is quality but illustrate the points well. With its well-chosen graphics and clear text this book is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to understand trees and how to grow them.