Lives of the Trees: An Uncommon History

Overview

Diana Wells, author of 100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names now turns her attention to something bigger—our deep-rooted relationship with trees. As she investigates the names and meanings of trees, telling their legends and lore, she reminds us of just how innately bound we are to these protectors of our planet. Since the human race began, we have depended on them for food, shade, shelter and fuel, not to mention furniture, musical instruments, medicine utensils and more.

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Lives of the Trees

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Overview

Diana Wells, author of 100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names now turns her attention to something bigger—our deep-rooted relationship with trees. As she investigates the names and meanings of trees, telling their legends and lore, she reminds us of just how innately bound we are to these protectors of our planet. Since the human race began, we have depended on them for food, shade, shelter and fuel, not to mention furniture, musical instruments, medicine utensils and more.

Wells has a remarkable ability to dig up the curious and the captivating: At one time, a worm found in a hazelnut prognosticated ill fortune. Rowan trees were planted in churchyards to prevent the dead from rising from their graves. Greek arrows were soaked in deadly yew, and Shakespeare’s witches in Macbeth used “Gall of goat and slips of Yew” to make their lethal brew. One bristlecone pine, at about 4,700 years old, is thought to be the oldest living plant on earth. All this and more can be found in the beautifully illustrated pages (themselves born of birch bark!) of 100 Trees.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Jane Van Wiemokly
Wells has a knack for unearthing interesting and unusual facts about the 100 trees profiled here in an A-to-Z format, much like her 100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 1997). More popular culture than scientific analysis, information includes facts like how the trees got their names, any healing properties, how they were viewed by people over the centuries, and what they offered then and now. It is sad to say that some have become extinct from disease. If one isn't a botanist or amateur gardener, who would even know or recognize that golden rain, neem, and welwitschia are trees. Many people cannot identify most trees, so the delicate drawings of a small segment of each tree that appears at the front of the chapters are very useful. Except for some casual mentions of an historical source within some entries and a further reading list, Wills does not include foot- or end-notes or a bibliography to let the reader know where all these fascinating tidbits come from, causing this reader to think "How do I know all this is true? Where did Wells get these facts?" Despite this, the information makes for a fun read, albeit a little at a time; it is not the type of book to be read cover-to-cover at one sitting. Teens may not read the whole book, but it could be helpful for research papers or social studies and ecology classes, especially in this day of "greener" thinking. Reviewer: Jane Van Wiemokly
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565124912
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
  • Publication date: 1/19/2010
  • Pages: 369
  • Sales rank: 946,945
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Diana Wells is the author of 100 Birds and How They Got Their Names and 100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names, has written for Friends Journal, and is contributing editor of the journal Greenprints. Born in Jerusalem, she has lived in England and Italy and holds an honors degree in history from Oxford University. She now lives with her husband on a farm in Pennsylvania.

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