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Published on: 01/6/21 5:37 AM

Book review: Around the World in 80 Trees by Jonathan Driori

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 TREES by Jonathan Driori. Illustrations by Lucille Clerc. Laurence King Books.

Sometimes I send out for books purely on impulse, entranced by a description, by a jacket photo, by the illustrations. I`ll confess I have regretted the buy only a very few times; the rest of the time, I`ve struck gold.

The book purchase of 2020 for me was this book, a crisp description of 80 trees to be found around the world, each one of them with the most fascinating tale attached. Lucille Clerc`s illustrations are simply splendid, of the kind one spends much time poring over in delight.

Environmentalist, tree specialist, a former Trustee of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Jonathan Driori tells the reader so much: of the magic believed to be possessed by rowan trees; how the willow may be linked by folklore to sadness (weeping willow, remember?) but that it actually has a connection with the relief of physical pain; of kissing under the linden tree; of the beech`s ancient link with writing; how the wood of the cork oak is used as shield on NASA`s space shuttle fuel tanks ; how Norway`s spruce is the wood of choice used to make the soundboards of the world`s most valuable stringed instruments; the alder`s presence in Venice; how `sycophant` shares the same root as sykon for fig; the Mediterranean cypress and Apollo legend; how olive trees live (and bear fruit!) for a thousand years; how the Dragon`s Blood tree, found in Yemen, has a Hindu myth attached to it; who actually the banyan is named for (this one came as a surprise to this reader!) and so much more.


Like I said, a real treasure.

Around the World in 80 Treesbackstories of treesbook reviewJonathan Drioritreestrees of the world

Sheila Kumar • January 6, 2021

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