SCIENCES

Douglas Fir: The Story of the West’s Most Remarkable Tree

Mountaineers. Oct. 2020. 192p. ISBN 9781680511994. $21.95. NAT HIST
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Arno and Fiedler (coauthors, Northwest Trees) remind readers that the California redwood is not the West’s only iconic tree. Over seven chapters, they make a strong case for the remarkable Douglas fir by examining both the tree (e.g., the conundrum of its botanical identity, biology, and ecology) and its value to humans (e.g., commercial importance, and diverse uses over millennia). Starting with the tree’s extraordinary variability—notably, “coastal giants 300 feet tall and inland specimens centuries old, little more than head-high”—the authors go on to uncover many more interesting facets. With dual authorship, the book nevertheless presents as stylistically seamless; each contributor comes from an extensive forestry research background, writing accessible about the subject as well as their love of the Douglas fir. The authors support their text with a solid list of references, which may be helpful for readers looking for more information. Vintage black-and-white illustrations by Keller give a vivid sense of early lumbering practices and magnificence of old growth forests that once were. A helpful appendix features a “Guide to North America’s Notable Douglas firs.”
VERDICT Concise and readable, this should have broad appeal among tree lovers.

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