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Around the world in 80 trees by Jonathan…

Around the world in 80 trees (edition 2018)

by Jonathan Drori, Lucille Clerc (Illustrator.)

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581305,291 (4.8)5
Title:Around the world in 80 trees
Authors:Jonathan Drori
Other authors:Lucille Clerc (Illustrator.)
Info:London, United Kingdom : Laurence King Publishing, 2018.
Collections:Your library

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Around the World in 80 Trees by Jonathan Drori


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Jonathan Drori has created an irresistible book for tree lovers. In 80 short pieces (a page or two eacn), he illuminates the history, culture (and more) of trees from all over the world, exotic and ordinary (and thankfully he doesn't feel the need to give them human qualities). The illustrations are lovely and add to the tone of the book. I love to pick this book up at some odd moment and read an entry randomly; Dutch elm, the Horse chestnut, the European box (I never really thought about the wood and oboe is made from), Neem, Quinine, Banyan, Linden, Weeping Willow (mentioned in Psalm 137)… and my local nemesis, the Quaking Aspen. It’s not exhaustive (what, no entry for Sassafras?), but I forgive the author.

I love this book. I’ve bought 4 or 5 copies—gifts to fellow tree-lovers in my life. I don’t think I will ever be officially "done" with this book (I'm reading about the Upas tree now), so I thought it best to tell you about it sooner rather than later. ( )
1 vote avaland | Jul 12, 2019 |
Trees are gifts. Just figure out what their special features are, and you can keep the gifts coming. The gifts can be as simple as shade, as complex as medicine, as practical as boards and posts or as supportive as fruits and nuts. And that’s just for humans. In Around the World in 80 Trees, Jonathan Drori demonstrates a true passion and appreciation of those gifts, as he describes 80 of them by geographical region. He describes the, what’s unique about how they work and stories of how they fit in.

The text is accompanied by exquisite color drawings by Lucille Clerc which are far superior to photographs. They highlight what Drori writes about in closeups of seeds or fruits in various stages, roots, canopies or trunks. For boxwoods, there is a complex French garden. For alders, there is Venice. Drori uses both sides of the page, differently for every tree, giving the layout nice variety.

There are trees so dense they sink rather than float, trees that only grow in saltwater-soaking sands, and trees that hold their seeds tightly sealed in wax until there is a forest fire below them. One tree holds its seeds in pods that explode with such violence the seeds fly off at 150 mph (the sandbox, Costa Rica).

Some to remember:

Linden trees are limes. Aphids live in them and drop honeydew on the ground – or on parked cars, leaving that famous sticky mess. It’s not the tree’s doing. Bees get drunk on the blossoms, and can often be seen stumbling around on the ground beneath them. People don’t act quite as badly, but are still smitten (with each other) in spring by the fragrance of the blossoms.

The argan of the Mediterranean has a fruit so tempting to goats that they climb up the trees and out onto the branches to get at it. The oil from it is used in creams, cosmetics and cooking, giving employment to about three million – people.

Nordic spruce grows so slowly its rings are tiny, giving the wood great strength while remaining light. That is why they are used in violins, cellos and basses (notably Stradivarius). Their solidity produces the best vibrations, aka sound. The wood is so dense it takes 10-50 years for the wood to dry. The longer you can wait, the better the sound will be.

Alder is waterproof when totally submerged. Venice is built on it: thousands of poles, carved to a point and driven into the mud. Its charcoal makes the best gunpowder, sending balls faster harder and farther. It even burns hotter, enabling ironworks.

Beech trees can survive lightning strikes because water runs down their smooth bark onto the ground. Unusually, the bark expands as the tree grows, keeping the surface smooth. On most other trees, the bark splits as the tree grows, allowing water and insects to invade the interior.

Coco-de-Mer is native to the Seychelles only. Its coconut weighs 65 pounds, the heaviest seed there is. Imagine a bag of cement falling from the top of a tree. After it rots, the seed sends out roots 15 feet away so as not to interfere with the mother tree.

The gutta-percha tree of Borneo turned out to have latex inside the trunk and the leaves that could be a sealant. Werner von Siemens invented a process to coat transoceanic cables with it and prevent the salt water from destroying the copper wires inside. He produced a quarter million miles of cable for telegraph systems.

Mangrove trees are unique in that their seeds germinate and grow roots while still growing on the tree. They fall like darts and anchor themselves in the sand, firmly enough to withstand tides. The tree is a desalination plant, purifying the salt water as it is sucked up towards the leaves by the sun evaporating moisture from them. They can live only in the narrow band of territory between the mean sea level and high tide, and so are threatened by rising seas.

The giant redwoods of California grow to what turns out to be theoretical maximum height for trees – 400 feet. Any taller and gravity would overtake water’s cohesion properties and the crown of the tree would dry up, killing the tree.

You can read Around the World in 80 Trees as a reference book, looking up trees you’ve heard about or what is native to different countries. Or, you can read it as a regular book, and the astounding variety of strategies that plants took on fairly jump off the page. From having pollinators tunnel through fruit to spikes and spines and various poisons in the bark and leaves, trees are far more varied beings than we give them credit for.

One word of advice, do not get the Kindle version. The few drawings that made into that format have been reduced to thumbnails to fit the small screen. You miss fully half the book. Stick to paper – a gift from trees.

David Wineberg ( )
5 vote DavidWineberg | Mar 10, 2019 |
Excellent book, beautifully written. Deserves a second read. ( )
  Faradaydon | Jul 19, 2018 |
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Trees are one of humanity's most constant and most varied companions. From India's sacred banyan tree to the fragrant cedar of Lebanon, they offer us sanctuary and inspiration - not to mention the raw materials for everything from aspirin to maple syrup. InAround the World in 80 Trees, expert Jonathan Drori uses plant science to illuminate how trees play a role in every part of human life, from the romantic to the regrettable. Stops on the trip include the lime trees of Berlin's Unter den Linden boulevard, which intoxicate amorous Germans and hungry bees alike, the swankiest streets in nineteenth-century London, which were paved with Australian eucalyptus wood, and the redwood forests of California, where the secret to the trees' soaring heights can be found in the properties of the tiniest drops of water. Each of these strange and true tales - populated by self-mummifying monks, tree-climbing goats and ever-so-slightly radioactive nuts - is illustrated by Lucille Clerc, taking the reader on a journey that is as informative as it is beautiful.… (more)

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