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Trees of New England: A Natural History Paperback – October 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Taking up where field guides leave off, Trees of New England offers an engaging look at the natural history of the region's native and common nonnative tree species. From alder through hornbeam to witch-hazel, you'll learn how and when trees reproduce; how their physical structure protects them from the elements; and how diseases, insect pests, and environmental degradation are affecting trees today.
Noted naturalist Charles Fergus communicates his love for trees in every description and gentle detail, providing information on characteristics and physical makeup as well as personal anecdotes, notable cultural and historical tidbits, and full, rich descriptions of the interplay between trees and animals and trees and humans. Discover interesting and little-known facts such as:
The acorns of the white oak are less bitter-tasting than those of the red oak; some are sweet enough to eat without any preparation.

The wood of the sugar maple provides flooring that lasts longer than marble and is used for baseball bats said to propel the ball farther than white ash.

In colonial times, the British practice of reserving the tallest, straightest white pine trees for the Royal Navy fueled anti-British sentiment leading to the Revolutionary War.

Accompanying the splendidly written narrative are range maps for most species and beautiful line drawings of tree features for easy identification. Sit and savor this captivating book-it will enhance your appreciation of the majestic trees that populate our landscape.

About the Author

Charles Fergus has written about nature and the outdoors for many magazines and newspapers, including Audubon, Country Journal, Science, and the New York Times. He is the author of fifteen books, including Thornapples, Wildlife of Pennsylvania and the Northeast, A Hunter's Book of Days, and Summer at Little Lava, named by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 1998. He lives with his wife and son in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont in an old farmhouse on 108 acres of land, 80 of which are forested.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: FalconGuides; 1st edition (October 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0762737956
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762737956
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #836,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By F. Theilig on February 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
When looking for a New England tree field guide, I chose this book over "Native and Naturalized Trees of New England and Adjacent Canada: A Field Guide" by DeGraaf and Sendak because "Trees of New England" appeared to have more and better illustrations. A closer inspection proved that "Trees" didn't have as many as I thought. While this is my biggest criticism of the work, they can be forgiven because this book isn't primarily a field guide, but a natural history book. Also, what illustrations it does have are of exceptional quality. Amelia Hansen should be commended. I will look for other books that she has worked on.

One thing that struck me was frequent references to other books that I have read, like Tom Wessels' "Reading the Forested Landscape" and Bernd Heinrich's "The Trees in my Forest", both very special works. "Trees", however, should have come first. While Wessels, Heinrich, and others will layer rich detail about specific trees or situations, they don't give the reader an overall picture of area trees. Hence, I needed a field guide.

Charles Fergus lists 75 native trees and 15 common introduced species, tells us about their size, range, and other basic information, then gives us some history and maybe tells us about his personal experience with it. I much appreciated the inclusion of lumber uses of the tree. This information is given primarily in paragraph form rather than chart form, which can make a quick lookup difficult. He will repeat himself from section to sections, which can be a little annoying if you read the book cover to cover like I did, but necessary for those who read the sections reference style.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By ChristineMM TOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 24, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is an interesting read; it's not a field guide. General facts are told about the trees and sometimes personal observations or stories.

Each tree has a map showing the region it grows in and one or two hand drawn black line illustrations per species. There are not enough illustrations nor are they consistent enough to double as a field guide. For example some illustrations show the full tree giving us a sense of the shape while others show just the leaf and other times, the bark. I wish each of these types of visuals was included for every tree.

If you are interested in medicinal uses or practical uses for the trees, i.e. which are good for home heat firewood burning or which are used for making wood furniture and so forth, only some trees have that information. Sometimes how the tree was used by Native Americans is included (but not always).

If you want to know more about trees than a regular field guide teaches you and you are interested in trees of New England you'll want to read this book. Anyone who can't get enough information about trees would feel this is necessary for their library.

I'm rating this 4 stars = I Like It because the text is interesting and provides details that I have not found in other books. The reason I'm not giving it 5 stars = I Love It, is I wish it had more illustrations showing the full tree shape, the leaf, the bark and the fruit or nut if applicable.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mark Freedman on January 10, 2015
Format: Paperback
What I originally wanted was a field guide, to help me learn more about the trees around me, and I was a little disappointed in this book because it isn't an identification guide. It has a few very nice illustrations, but these aren't really going to help you identify a particular tree in the woods. I later picked up a few field guides, as well as Tudge's book on trees, and what I learned is that, if you live in New England, this is actually the book that's really going to help you learn how to identify a tree, what makes it different from other trees, what its botanical history is, and some important facts about it. Fergus writes about trees as if he were a benevolent alien kindly and patiently describing a new life form. I really had to pick up the book a few times and read it (or actually parts of it--it's the kind of book you read maybe 30 pages at a time), over the course of a couple years, before I really learned to appreciate it. It's beautifully written and full of information. Highly recommended.
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