THE SECRET LIFE OF TREES: How They Live and Why they Matter

by Colin Tudge

Publisher:  Penguin (2006)
ISBN  0-141-01293-5

Paperback £8.99

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In his Preface, Tudge tells us ‘This book is mainly about the science of trees what modern research is telling us about them. about the uses we make of them, and what they do for us, and why they must be conserved . what they are: how they came into being; what kinds there are and where they live and why; how they live, competing and co-operating’.

As a tree nurseryman and scientist, Tudge obviously has a vast knowledge of trees and in this densely-packed paperback he travels from his own garden around the world, not only explaining the biology but also giving us descriptions of individual and families of trees. He includes line drawings and tables and finishes with notes, a reading list, a glossary and an index.  Sounds heavy-going?  Not at all: I found this book highly readable and full of fascinating snippets for instance, I hadn’t realised that my favourite  ate tea comes from a holly, or that Thomas Berwick, when engraving, found that boxwood gave results comparable with metal.

Shirley Barnes