7.5 pounds of wonderful

No, we didn't have a baby but something much better than that entered the household over the holidays - Michael Dirr and Keith Warren's new book The Tree Book. It is a massive book - 940 pages and covers 2400 tree species and cultivars. It isn't a book that you can curl up in bed with, as I love to do, but it looks nice on the coffee table and it is excellent browsing material. It is a reference book for the plant professional (all nurseries should get a copy) or tree-loving plant geeks like myself.

Each entry gives detailed information about foliage and flower characteristics, native range, adaptability, landscape use, street tree use and descriptions of cultivars commonly seen in trade. The photos are most helpful and usually include multiple views of the entire tree seen from a distance as well as close-up shots of leaves and flowers.

The information in the book is valuable although you will have to read the individual entries closely for information concerning what areas of the country is best suited for the tree. Sometimes, only a climate zone is given, which is often inadequate. A map or even charts with references to ideal locations would have been helpful. 

Although the book contains a huge number of trees, you will not find everything. For example, I did not find an entry for Embothrium coccineum (Chilean Flame Tree) but that is a tree that only grows in this region of the U.S. On the other hand, though, another Pacific Northwest resident, the Eucryphia is listed. 

Still, this is an essential reference book and like my dilapidated copy of the earlier Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, I know this will be a book I will return to again and again.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. I laughed at the beginning of this post. Too funny...
    This looks like a book I would love to peruse on a snowy winter day.

  2. Its important to see a tree in multiple seasons and stages to get a real sense of it, and how it will fit in a space, be it our garden or a park. I often fall in love with a closeup picture of bark, only to realize it belong to a massive specimen I should never plant in my own garden :-D This book is a wonderful resource.


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