This is not a book filled with impenetrable botanical terminology and nomenclature, nor is it a “coffee table” tome. It is far more readable and useful than such texts. It is written by Edward Milner, who has a strong background in ecology and natural history and consequently he addresses the biology, history,management, ecology, and uses of our native trees *.
In discussing ‘The limes’ for example, we discover that many of our common limes are descended from stock from the Netherlands – imported in the C17th; that the small and large leaved lime migrated into SE England some 7,500 years ago via the land bridge with the continent, but they did not make it to Ireland. We find that their wood was used in the making of altar pieces, friezes, chair seats, ladles and canoes! The under-bark or bast was used (for 1000’s of years) to make rope and nets. The flowers of Lime made linden tea or were fermented for wine. The tree could be coppiced for hop poles or charcoal. It offers shelter, food and habitats for a variety of plant feeding arthropods (e.g. the lime hawk moth and brown leaf hopper). Those tiny “red bottles” that you may see on lime leaves are, in fact, red nail galls caused by a mite.
Apart from such ‘portraits of native trees’ * and many impressive photographs, there are sections / chapters on topics such as folklore and the history of our trees. There is also a number of useful tables, for example, a checklist of native and naturalized trees (according to Stace 3), whilst another deals with the biological characteristics of native and naturalized trees (can they be coppiced / pollarded? Seed viability) - others list diseases, trees of hedgerows etc.
* Alder, Alder Buckthorn, Ash, Aspen, Beech, Birches, Bird Cherry, Black Poplar, Blackthorn, Box, Buckthorn, Crabapple, Elder, Elms, Field Maple, Hawthorns, Hazel, Holly, Hornbeam, Juniper, Limes, Oaks, Pears, Rowan, Scots Pine, Spindle Tree, True Service Tree, Strawberry Tree, Sweet Chestnut, Sycamore, Wayfaring Tree, Whitebeams, Wild Cherry, Wild Service Tree, Willows and Sallows and Yew.