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Trees: Their Natural History Paperback – Feb 13 2000
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"Affable study...packed with information and peppered with interesting facts...clean, upbeat prose." Publishers Weekly
"Thomas has the wonderful ability to mix in the odd but interesting fact to illustrate key ideas, all while maintaining a readable style...Trees is highly recommended, a fundamental book for all university libraries. Undergraduates through professionals." Choice
"...this book was a pleasure to read. I will order it for my forest ecology class." The Quarterly Review of Biology
"Written for non-specialists, this book provides a pleasantly readable introduction to what is known about trees. Well-written. A fine book for any library." Northeastern Naturalist
"[V]ery good, interesting and loaded with an impressive amount of information...pleasant to read and refreshing. The sense of humour of Dr. Thomas certainly has a lot to do with that. The book is without question a must for all undergraduate students interested in any aspect of tree biology and evolution." Ecoscience
Trees are familiar components of many landscapes, yet how much do we really understand about how they work? This book provides the only modern introduction to the natural history of trees, presenting information on all aspects of tree biology and ecology in an easy to read and concise text. Written for a non-technical audience, the book is nonetheless rigorous in its treatment and will provide a valuable source of reference for beginning students as well as those with a less formal interest in this fascinating group of plants.
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You'd expect it to be boring, but it isn't. He presents the material in a lively and interesting fashion. Thomas starts with food production (leaves), water transportation (trunk and branches), and the scaffolding that holds a tree up. Along the way, you'll find answers to all those questions that three year olds might ask their parents - - how does the bark stretch when a tree adds a ring? How do apple blossoms turn into apples? Why do quaking aspen leaves quake?
If those questions interest you, you'll enjoy the book. It's organized conceptually and analytically, not around those kinds of questions, but you'll learn the answers along the way. You'll also learn all sorts of other things.
Because Thomas intended it for classroom use, by the later chapters he regularly cross-references concepts and processes that he introduced at the beginning of the book. I'd forgotten some of them, and that was frustrating. If I had been taking a class on trees, my teaching assistant or professor could have clarified, and Thomas clearly wrote the book on the assumption that readers would have such people available. In a revised edition, more gentle reminders for the general reader would be helpful. A glossary of terms wouldn't hurt either.
All in all, though, it's a very good book - - I'd give it a 4.5 if I could. Enjoy.
Thomas writes with an intelligent, yet easily accessible, non condescending voice. Yes, there are Latin terms but not so many that you stop to look in the glossary or a dictionary every other sentence.
Also, there is no "preaching" here about the evils of clear-cutting, etc. (You can find many of those books ...but a basic and thorough text has been difficult to find until now.) This is an excellent resource for the serious gardener who wants factual, yet enjoyable, book about the life of trees--and thereby acquire the knowledge necessary for proper care. However, I don't want to mislead anyone: there is not a lengthy discussion of fertilizers, pest control, pruning etc....yet there are discussions regarding tree roots and sewers, house foundations etc.
In other words, reading this book and gaining an understanding the natural history of trees one can then make intelligent decisions regarding their care and maintenance--and recognize which arborists and/or tree care "professionals" to hire or stay away from.
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