Sunday book review – Trees by Peter A. Thomas


The New Naturalist series has become rather patchy in my view, in terms of the quality of the content and of the quality of production. This volume is a good one on both counts.

It was a pleasure to look through the pages and find a wide range of informative and legible photographs, diagrams and graphs, all of which scored highly in terms of conveying information and looking attractive. That has not been the norm, of late, in my experience and so is worth celebrating.

It’s a big book, of 500 pages, but then there is a lot to cover. We learn of the biology of trees from root to branch and leaf, and by way of xylem and phloem. There is a lot about the value of trees to us, which was mostly familiar to me but it’s very useful to have it brought together in one place, and that has traditionally been the strength of this book series. I found the sections on the future, partly about climate change with quite a lot about urban trees, most interesting. The graph (Figure 246 on page 446!) which shows the distribution of Silver Birch trees against indices of warmth and temperature of the growing season was interesting enough in itself but the inclusion of the current and future location of London in that space was an eye opener for me; the London  climate of 2050, not that far away, won’t be suitable for this tree species. I would never have come across that graph through my own reading and that, too, is what New Naturalists should do for the general reader, and this one does.

I recommend this book as a good read and a valuable addition to your bookshelves. It does just what New Naturalists should do and it is very clearly written.

The cover? Didn’t grab me – I’d give it 7/10.

Trees by Peter A. Thomas is published by William Collins.