Who doesn’t love a tree? You can climb it, sit in its shade, even burn it once it is dead. Or simply admire it. A dark forest, particularity if mono-culture, can be an oppressive place but a mixed deciduous-coniferous wood is a delight- Scrappy little pines bent under a constant wind, the rotting bulk in a carr, the gentle Willow trailing into a flowing river, or one of the great sights of England- a magnificent Oak sitting alone in a field. All pretty special, but trees can be all the better appreciated if we can put a name to them.
You don’t need much in the way of guides for trees, particularly if you only want the basics. Not everyone wants to split the Oaks apart or tell one Willow species from another. But spot the reddish boughs of a pine, the flaking plates on the bark of a city Plane or the nut husks in the leaf litter beneath a tree and you are getting somewhere.
The two books shown in the featured image have stood me well as reference works. Roger Phillips had, by the time his Trees in Britain volume was published, honed his skills as both a photographer and botanist well. Collins have updated their trees field guide a number of times but I have never felt the need to replace my perfectly serviceable guide from Alan Mitchell.
Two small guides from Jarrold to tree species were amongst the very first slim books that Three Points of the Compass purchased with pocket money as a young teenager, I still have them.
If you do have any interest in trees, and I do encourage you to look a little closer at them, it rarely stops there. The dependent species that frequently enjoy a symbiotic mutualism with a particular tree species can be fascinating in their own right, none more so than the lichens, which are themselves, an obligate mutualism resulting from the combination of fungi and algae. OK, so look it up…
Books from my shelves:
Trees in Britain, Europe and North America. Roger Phillips. Ward Lock, 1978. ISBN 0 7063 5720 5
A Field Guide to the Trees of Britain and Northern Europe. Alan Mitchell. Collins, 1974. ISBN 0 00 212035 6
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