The Tree by Colin Tudge
A Natural History of What Trees Are, How They Live, and Why They Matter

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 3 Critic Reviews



There are redwoods in California that were ancient by the time Columbus first landed, and pines still alive that germinated around the time humans invented writing. There are Douglas firs as tall as skyscrapers, and a banyan tree in Calcutta as big as a football field.

From the tallest to the smallest, trees inspire wonder in all of us, and in The Tree, Colin Tudge travels around the world—throughout the United States, the Costa Rican rain forest, Panama and Brazil, India, New Zealand, China, and most of Europe—bringing to life stories and facts about the trees around us: how they grow old, how they eat and reproduce, how they talk to one another (and they do), and why they came to exist in the first place. He considers the pitfalls of being tall; the things that trees produce, from nuts and rubber to wood; and even the complicated debt that we as humans owe them.

Tudge takes us to the Amazon in flood, when the water is deep enough to submerge the forest entirely and fish feed on fruit while river dolphins race through the canopy. He explains the “memory” of a tree: how those that have been shaken by wind grow thicker and sturdier, while those attacked by pests grow smaller leaves the following year; and reveals how it is that the same trees found in the United States are also native to China (but not Europe).

From tiny saplings to centuries-old redwoods and desert palms, from the backyards of the American heartland to the rain forests of the Amazon and the bamboo forests, Colin Tudge takes the reader on a journey through history and illuminates our ever-present but often ignored companions. A blend of history, science, philosophy, and environmentalism, The Tree is an engaging and elegant look at the life of the tree and what modern research tells us about their future.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Colin Tudge

See more books from this Author
COLIN TUDGE is a biologist by education and a writer by inclination- on biology, food and agriculture, and the philosophy of science. His books include The Tree, Feeding People Is Easy, Consider the Birds, and The Time Before History. For more information about the author, go to
Published October 3, 2006 by Broadway Books. 480 pages
Genres: Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, Crafts, Hobbies & Home, Sports & Outdoors. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Tree

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

Global warming threatens trees, which don’t adapt quickly to environmental change, and without them, our own once-arboreal species becomes much more vulnerable, Tudge writes.

| Read Full Review of The Tree: A Natural History o...

The New York Times

See more reviews from this publication

Readers’ Opinions Forum: Book News and Reviews “So it is that plants control their form,” Colin Tudge writes in “The Tree: A Natural History of What Trees Are, How They Live, and Why They Matter.” The subtitle is as straightforward as can be, but the book is oddly more — a descriptive cat...

Oct 15 2006 | Read Full Review of The Tree: A Natural History o...

The New York Review of Books

And this scheme, carried on by botanists down the centuries, really has, to borrow from Andrew Marvell, grown “vaster than empires, and more slow.” Linnaeus’s highest plant categories—the classes—were arranged according to the nature of the … ...

Feb 15 2007 | Read Full Review of The Tree: A Natural History o...

Reader Rating for The Tree

An aggregated and normalized score based on 26 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review