Twelve Trees: The Deep Roots of Our Future

Avid Reader/S. & S. Mar. 2024. 336p. ISBN 9781982164058. $30. NAT HIST
Lewis (sr. curator, History of Science and Technology, Huntington Lib., Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens; Belonging on an Island) selects a small but extraordinary sample of arboreal species to explore their distinctive attributes. He also considers larger issues such as the legal rights of trees (redwoods), the invasive vs. native conundrum (blue gum eucalyptus), and the myriad threats to their survival, including the accelerating effects of climate change. The text is accessible and discursively casual throughout, be it a report from a burn in a Carolinian longleaf pine stand, the story of a leading guitar manufacturer that works to trade Central African ebony sustainably, or an account of Lewis’s quest down the Amazon River to see a sublime Peruvian ceiba. Another interesting topic is plant science itself. Lewis shows how specialized methods are deepening society’s understanding but endorses—and demonstrates to stirring effect—a humanistic view. Sounding at times like Thoreau, Lewis exhorts readers to try to see the world from a tree’s perspective and to practice empathy. Nyquist’s exquisite illustrations complement and enhance the book’s gorgeous world.
VERDICT This engaging heart-and-mind approach to educating readers about trees reveals that they too have lessons to offer to the world.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing