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Around the World in 80 Trees

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An arboreal odyssey" - NATURE"One of the most quietly beautiful books of the year" - DAILY MAILEvening Standard Books of the Year 2018The Times Gardening Books of the Year 2018Discover the secretive world of trees in Jonathan Drori's number one bestseller. He starts with the London Plane, “a tree of pomp and circumstance”, first planted in Berkeley Square, Mayfair, in 1789. The smooth bark of the beech has long been associated with writing: beech boards once enclosed vellum books and in many languages the words for this tree and for the written word are similar. From the trees of Britain, to India's sacred banyan tree, they offer us sanctuary and inspiration - not to mention the raw materials for everything from aspirin to maple syrup. Stops on the trip include the lime trees of Berlin's Unter den Linden boulevard, which intoxicate amorous Germans and hungry bees alike, the swankiest streets in nineteenth-century London, which were paved with Australian eucalyptus wood, and the redwood forests of California, where the secret to the trees' soaring heights can be found in the properties of the tiniest drops of water.

The classic Christmas tree is also prized for its ‘tonewood’, which is used to make the soundboards of the world’s most valuable stringed instruments. The book combines history, science and a wealth of quirky detail - there should be surprises for everyone. Its weird appearance is explained by one folk tale as due to the tree having ideas above its station: “The Creator exasperatedly flung the baobab upside down with its roots in the air. The Blastophaga wasps that pollinate the common edible fig are female, stingless and just a couple of millimetres long.This is a wonderful tour of the Earth’s trees, revealing their unique characteristics and the vital roles they have played in human life and culture. Each of these strange and true tales - populated by self-mummifying monks, tree-climbing goats and ever-so-slightly radioactive nuts - is illustrated by Lucille Clerc, taking the reader on a journey that is as informative as it is beautiful. Stiff materials make the best soundboards because they can transmit vibration efficiently from molecule to molecule; in a more elastic material, energy is squandered as the sound waves travel through it.

Travelling eastwards from his London home, he chooses 80 trees from the 60,000 or so species on the planet.

Liquid urushiol causes extreme rashes, and even its vapour promotes itching that can linger for months. Nature writing at its best, skilfully weaving science with fascinating folklore and the sheer wonder of trees.

Proust played on this in À la recherche du temps perdu, in which the narrator dips a madeleine cake into lime-blossom tea, triggering a chain of involuntary memories. The strawberry tree is native to the western Mediterranean and the southwest of Ireland – but not Britain. A hybrid of the American sycamore and the Oriental plane, they have set an example to urban planners around the world. By day, the distinctive monochrome pattern of snow-clad birch forests is dazzling and disorientating, but during long boreal nights, their moonlit, ghostly forms take on an eerie power.Perfect for fans of Peter Wohlleben's The Hidden Life of Trees, this new book will certainly whet the appetite of any tree lover to take an around-the-world trip, or simply visit your local botanic garden. Its clusters of pretty cream flowers have a strong scent and plenty of nectar to attract hordes of pollinating insects. Jonathan Drori is a Trustee of The Woodland Trust and The Eden Project, an Ambassador for the WWF and was for nine years a Trustee of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

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