A Natural History of North American Trees

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007 - Nature - 490 pages
5 Reviews
Donald Culross Peattie's two books about American trees were first published in the 1950s. In this beautiful new one-volume edition, modern readers are introduced to one of the best nature writers of the last century. More than one hundred of the original illustrations by Paul Landacre highlight the eloquent and entertaining accounts of American trees. As we read Peattie's descriptions, we catch glimpses of our country's history and past daily life that no textbook could ever illuminate so vividly.

Here you'll learn about everything from how a species was discovered to the part it played in our country’s history. Pioneers often stabled an animal in the hollow heart of an old sycamore, and the whole family might live there until they could build a log cabin. The tuliptree, the tallest native hardwood, is easier to work than most softwood trees; Daniel Boone carved a sixty-foot canoe from one tree to carry his family from Kentucky into Spanish territory. In the days before the Revolution, the British and the colonists waged an undeclared war over New England's white pines, which made the best tall masts for fighting ships.

It's fascinating to learn about the commercial uses of various woods -- for paper, fine furniture, fence posts, matchsticks, house framing, airplane wings, and dozens of other preplastic uses. But we cannot read this book without the occasional lump in our throats. The American elm was still alive when Peattie wrote, but as we read his account today we can see what caused its demise. Audubon's portrait of a pair of loving passenger pigeons in an American beech is considered by many to be his greatest painting. It certainly touched the poet in Donald Culross Peattie as he depicted the extinction of the passenger pigeon when the beech forest was destroyed.

A Natural History of North American Trees gives us a picture of life in America from its earliest days to the middle of the last century. The information is always interesting, though often heartbreaking. While Peattie looks for the better side of man's nature, he reports sorrowfully on the greed and waste that have doomed so much of America's virgin forest.
  

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Review: A Natural History of North American Trees

User Review  - Ted Dettweiler - Goodreads

I'm going to pick my way through this one-volume edition of Peattie's original 2 volumes on American trees that had been published in the 1950's. I started today with a Waterloo County heritage tree ... Read full review

Review: A Natural History of North American Trees

User Review  - Matt - Goodreads

This book reminds me a lot of A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold--which is one of my favorite books. (They were written approximately contemporaneously). It is a bedside-type book where I read a few relaxing (and tree-trivia-filled) pages before falling asleep. Read full review

Contents

PINES
16
SPRUCES
83
WILLOWS
95
Black
102
Pussy
105
FIRS Douglas
107
Alpine
119
Northern Balsam
123
CHESTNUTS
183
HORNBEAMS American
184
Eastern Ironwood
186
Paper
188
River
192
OAKS
197
CEDARS
222
ELMS
246

Southern Balsam
125
Lowland
127
White
128
JUNIPERS Eastern Red Cedar
130
Common
135
Utah
137
Cherrystone
141
LARCHES Western
145
Tamarack
148
HEMLOCKS Eastern
151
Western
153
REECH
159
WALNUTS Black
166
Butternut
170
HICKORIES Shagbark
173
Broom
178
Pecan
180
TLLIPTREE
258
MAGNOLIAS
268
SASSAFRAS
275
POPLARS
282
DESERT PALM
299
HAWTHORNS
306
JOSHI IATREE
312
OREGON ALDER
327
YELLOWWOOD
344
CHRISTMAS HOLLY
367
TUPELO
381
DOGWOODS
397
MESO UITE
413
Glossary
475
Index of Scientific Names
487
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