by Richard Preston
Very interesting book about incredibly tall trees. The Wild Trees swings around people passionate about climbing trees- finding the tallest ones alive, measuring them, exploring them and documenting the life within their branches. Mostly coastal redwoods but also douglas firs and the mountain ash (in Australia). It starts out with a handful of college kids climbing redwoods in a national park just to see what it's like, and then unfolds in novelistic fashion telling the story of several canopy scientists: their original interests in trees, how they met up, taught each other skills and collaborated to find and study the very tallest of the tall, hidden in unexplored pockets of old growth forest. Along the way there's tons of information about the trees, their history, how they grow, etc. These men who climb were the first to discover that redwood canopies hold an ecosystem within their own branches, soil held in pockets that support plants and animal life. Not to mention the myriad different kinds of lichens, which pull nutrients out of the air to feed themselves and the trees. I could go on, but I'll let you read and discover it for yourself. Fascinating! I would have wished for a bit more description and less about the climber's personal lives, but that's a minor complaint. The trees are just amazing. They're the largest living organism on earth (aside from a huge underground fungus I just learned about, which covers several square miles!)
I read this book thanks to two recommendations: a review on Maggie Reads, and my mother told me about it after she read it during a trip to see the redwoods in California. I borrowed a copy from the public library.
Rating: 3/5 ........ 294 pages, 2007
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