Skip to main content

Call for books: Ethnobotany of trees & forests

First Nations Garden of the Montreal Botanical Garden
Ethnobotany is study of the relationship between people and plants, wrote Gabriell DeBear Paye, in Cultural Uses of Plants: A Guide to Learning about Ethnobotany.  The word ethnobotany is a combination of ethno, meaning "people" or "cultural group," and botany, meaning "the study of plants."
Inspired by the responses (thank you to Les of A Tidewater Gardener and Vicky of  TGAW) to our recent post about the comeback of the American chestnut, we've decided to make a list of books with (North American) trees and forests as central characters and to review them here.

We are calling on you our readers to suggest books in the comment section as well as on publishers and authors to send us copies of your books for a review on the blog.  We look forward to hearing from all of you!

Glass wall of cones (tamarack?), First Nations Garden of the Montreal Botanical Garden
Here's our reading list so far
  • Republic of Shade: New England and the American Elm by Thomas Campanella
  • American Chestnut: The Life, Death and Rebirth of a Perfect Tree by Susan Freinkel
  • Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
  • ...


  1. Thanks for the link. I was going to suggest the Kingsolver book, not to further anyone's education, but for the sheer joy of her writing.

  2. Oooh! How about this one:

    Between Earth and Sky
    Our Intimate Connections to Trees
    by Nalini M. Nadkarni

    I loved this book! I would send you my copy, but I'm not ready to part with it yet. Actually, I'm not certain I'll ever be ready to part with it. : ) It is full of so many different tree goodies-- anecdotes, science, poems, songs, history. Every other page, I found something else to be fascinated by.

  3. I can't say trees are "central characters" in the book, but here is my case for "The Kite Runner"

    (This post was in draft for at least a year-- Your post inspired me to finally finish it up!)

  4. I haven't read it since High School, but I do recall a tree being prominent in John Knowles' A Separate Peace.

  5. A couple picture books I remember fondly:
    The Pecan Tree by Matt Robinson
    The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

  6. Remembered another one. It's non-fiction.

    The Wild Trees
    by Richard Preston

    It's about the hikers, botanists, lichenologists, inventors and climbers who all contributed to discovering the tallest redwoods; climbing them; and studying the surprising plants, fungi and animals that made their home nearly 400 feet above the ground.

  7. Hey Georgia!

    Hope you've been well. I can't believe this post is 10 months old. Anyway, I just learned the author and photographer of "The Remarkable Trees of Virginia" (I'm on page 78 with one of the largest blazed trees on the Appalachian Trail) teamed up again for a new book called "Seeing Trees". I haven't read it yet, but it does sound like a good candiate for your reading list.


  8. Hello Vicky:

    You have a great memory; I am glad you remembered this post! Thank you for the recommendation.

    Have you read

  9. @Georgia-- I hadn't read it yet, but it sounds absolutely fascinating! Thanks for highlighting it!


Post a Comment

Thank you for commenting on this post!