What can I say? The Scottish spring of 2020 was spectacular (despite COVID-19). I made good use of my one hour’s outdoor exercise allowance per day to go awandering in my local nature reserve, which is only 10 minutes by foot from home and remained open the whole time. (Summer is turning into the usual disappointment – early July and the heating is back on as I type, but the less said about that the better). Let’s turn back to spring. All that communing with my beloved trees, it’s no wonder a themed read has emerged ….
It started with the first selection from my #edbookfest smorgasbord, which I purchased in 2018. I didn’t actually attend Drori’s event (I think there was a four-event conflict at the time) but his book just jumped out at me in the bookshop. It is a beauty.
Starting with the London plane trees, Drori takes the reader on a mainly eastwards circuit of the globe with the tales of 80 trees. From the London plane trees to the Canadian maple with beloved familiars (such as the Berlin Linden) and unknown exotics (such as the Whistling Thorn) inbetween. His descriptions of the trees, their main characteristics, and the contribution they have made and continue to make to our world despite man’s overexploitation are short, concise and frequently amazing. These texts are accompanied by beautiful botanical illustrations by Lucille Clerc, highlighting the distinctive characteristics of bark, leaves, fruits and often the products from which man has benefited.
Around the World in 80 Trees isn’t an academic work; it is written for the enthusiastic amateur. That would definitely be me. For as much as I love my arboreous landscapes, identifying the inhabitants is a challenge. But baby steps and all that. I’m pretty confident I can spot a Scottish Rowan tree now. 😉 This was not only an excellent primer but an eye-opener too. Drori presents one fascinating fact after another. “There is a world in every tree”, he says, and I was frequently astounded. For example I now know
⁃ which tree’s resin enabled the laying of the transatlantic cable
⁃ which single tree covers 4.5 acres (and even has a road running through it)
⁃ which tree produces fruits that weigh up to 30 kg each
⁃ why I will never eat a fig again (!)
⁃ the tree that lay at the heart of the Mutiny on the Bounty
Of course, I’m not telling, but I can point you in the direction of an excellent 5* book that will.