Of all plants, I love trees the most. I firmly believe that one of the keys to restoring ecological balance is the return of tall trees. Although I'm not a tree-hugger (too many ants), I do have a reverence for them. It was with great excitement that I awaited publication of Tropical & Subtropical Trees. Since it was from Timber Press, I had high hopes. This book exceeds my hopes. It is one of the greatest books ever published. The subject is huge and magnificent, and so is the book. Usually I like to compare different books in a review to give the reader an overview of what is available on the subject. Comparing this to any other tropical tree book is like comparing Britannica to a college dictionary.
I rarely use the word "lavish," but this book has an average of four color photographs on every page. The trees are illustrated by form, flowers, leaves, and bark – as well as seeds or fruit. Every tree gets a full page, with a bold box noting which ones are invasive (Thank you very much!) There are almost 2000 color photos in the book. The author has traveled the world, photographing true specimen trees. Altogether, there are over 650 species covered in detail. Only the palms are excluded, and there lots of other books just on palms.
Toward the back of the book is a section of quick reference checklists to help choose appropriate species for specific uses and conditions. Here again, the book excels. The lists are well-conceived and more extensive than I've seen elsewhere.
When I show someone this book, their first word is invariably the same – "Wow!"
Timber Press, Portland, Oregon, www.timberpress.com, 2004, 0-88192-661-2, 484 pages, color photographs and drawings, hardback, $69.95