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The Secret Life of Trees: How They Live and Why They Matter Hardcover – 3 Nov 2005

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (3 Nov. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713996986
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713996982
  • Product Dimensions: 15.8 x 4.1 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 741,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Magnificent. Tudge wanders trailing astonishing facts and lore behind him. -- The Oldie

One of those books you want everyone to have already read. -- Sunday Telegraph

Wonderful, invaluable and timely. Tudge is as illuminating a guide as one could wish for. -- Daily Mail

About the Author

Colin Tudge started his first tree nursery in his garden aged 11, becoming an accomplished cacti grower by the age of eighteen and marking his life-long interest in trees. Always interested in plants and animals, he studied zoology at Cambridge and then began writing about science, first as features editor at the New Scientist and then as a documentary maker for the BBC. Now a full-time writer, he appears regularly as a public speaker, particularly for the British Council and is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London and visiting Research Fellow at the Centre of Philosophy at the London School of Economics. His books include The Variety of Life: A Survey and Celebration of All the Creatures that have Ever Lived and So Shall We Reap. The Secret Life of Trees brings together Colin Tudge's knowledge of trees and his fascination with them, built up from trips to the rainforest in Costa Rica, Panama and Brazil, to his time India, New Zealand, China, the United States ! and his own back garden. He is unable to choose a favourite tree, believing that variety's the thing.

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'I never stopped thinking like a child,' said Einstein. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

89 of 94 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on 3 May 2006
Format: Hardcover
"I never met a Tudge I didn't like" is a fitting adage for this wide-ranging author. Having written an "unauthorised biography" of life, the impact of agriculture on human development and other works, Tudge has created a masterpiece of science writing. No longer can we claim that we can't "see the woods for the trees" since he has detailed the mechanics of both in exquisite detail. At) least so far as we know now. If nothing else is clear from this book, what we don't know about the mechanisms of trees far exceeds what we've learned. Trees, so ubiquitous in their presence and so meaningful in our lives, remain a great mystery to be solved. In three almost independent segments, he spells out what is known and what needs to be revealed.

He opens with one of the most understated definitions in science writing: "a tree is a big plant with a stick up the middle". From this simplistic opening, he then develops an image of how complex that "stick" and "plant" combination is in the final product. This complexity didn't appear from nowhere - the author explains how evolution built it from simple beginnings. Most readers will be familiar with the fact that 46 chromosome are needed to make a human. Trees, through various mechanisms, may develop hundreds of chromosomes depending on conditions. The structure of a single tree almost pales against the variety of trees growing around our planet. Tall trees, spreading ones, trees that we often call "shrubs" - which are merely superbly adapted to their local environment - all reflect the immense diversity trees have developed over the ages. Although generally divided into but two forms, conifers and "flowering" trees, they comprise thousands of species, many probably still unknown.
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By Mrs. Marie A. Hancocvk on 13 Dec. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An expensive book for second hand. I am told price is relevant to rarity. Must be very rare as price for second hand is almost 50% more than when new. Reasonable condition.
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24 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Ms. L. Scott on 12 Mar. 2006
Format: Hardcover
An amazingly absorbing book, albeit with a lot of biological descriptions of plant structure. Still very readable, but unless you have the memory of a sponge don't expect to retain it all! Aside from the botany which is in itself very interesting, Tudge incorporates all manner of info, much of it surprising, such as the fact that mangroves use the tidal movement of the sea as an external lung to transport oxygen to the submerged roots. Along with stories such as that of Pontius Pilate sitting beneath a still-living Yew Tree in Scotland (and the fact it may have been possible), how forest fires can be beneficial and the ethnobotanical uses of many plants, this is one book that deserves a second reading
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
The Secret Life of Trees 30 Jan. 2011
By Spider Monkey - Published on
Format: Hardcover
`The Secret Life of Trees' is a pretty comprehensive popular science book that explore the various aspects of tree life around the world. It is written in plain language and if you have read other popular science book then you will slip right into this with ease. Part 1 looks at what makes a tree, from their basic make-up, to more in depth genetics, Part 2 (the driest part for me overall) looks at the various species around the world, how they are catalogued and how they function in their environments, Part 3 explores why trees live where they do, why they behave as they do, how they interact with each other and other animal species and a whole host of other information. This was the most fascinating part overall. Finally, Part 4 looks at the future of trees and how they can be utilised better and how we can care for them more for the benefit of the trees and society at large. This book has some wonderful phrases in it that make it all the more delightful to read, for example it says `Asokas are said to blossom more vigorously when given a good kicking by young women. Don't we all.' This and other similar phrases make a dry science book more enjoyable and raise a smile as you progress through the pages. If trees have even remotely interested you then I'd recommend this book, you will be amazed at the science and behaviour behind these seemingly benign organisms and you will never look at them in the same way again. A rare treat in a book.

Dedicated to Stephen A. Haines whose reviews inspired me to read some amazing science books and who will be greatly missed.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
Five Stars 15 Dec. 2014
By Larry F. - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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