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Trees: From Root to Leaf – A Financial Times Book of the Year

From Root to Leaf

Paul Smith, Robert Macfarlane, Yvette Harvey-Brown


A landmark publication that captures the beautiful richness of every aspect of trees and their importance for science, culture and the future of humankind

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Trees feed us, shelter us, inspire us and heal us. In a world facing the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and a pressing climate emergency, the importance of these primeval beings in shaping our future is hard to understate.

Generously illustrated and organized according to tree lifecycle – from seeds, leaves and form to wood, flowers and fruit – this book celebrates the great diversity and beauty of the 60,000 tree species that inhabit our planet. Exquisite details are rendered by surprising photography and infographics: intricate bark and leaf patterns, intertwined ecosystems, colourful flower displays, archaic wooden wheels and timber houses. Integral to science, art and culture, fundamental and fragile, dependent and depended on, the vitality of trees is revealed like never before.


'Stunningly illustrated and detailed ... a celebration of all things arboreal, from the seeds, leaves, flowers and fruit to the diversity of trees and how they have influenced art, culture and science'
Sunday Times

'[Paul Smith] is a dendrologist with wit, passion and an enlightening way of telling a story ... the tree's frankly astonishing essence is generously illustrated and thoughtfully explained ... destined to become a classic and should certainly be part of any family's library'
World of Interiors

'This stunningly illustrated book covers all aspects of trees, from seeds and leaves to wood, flowers and fruit, as well as their importance for humanity through the ages. Clear explanatory text by Paul Smith, a leading plant conservationist, balances the finely reproduced photos and graphics'
Financial Times, Books of the Year

'Meticulously researched and illustrated ... detailed scientific facts are peppered with fascinating anecdotes'
English Garden

'Extensive ... looks at 60,000 tree species across the world revealing fascinating facts'
The Garden

'An engaging and beautiful book about all things arboreal'
Garden Answers

'This accessible and fascinating overview spans the science of tree life, and more broadly their ecology and natural and social history ... All nine chapters are well illustrated throughout with helpful and insightful narrative, whether you just want to dip into subjects or desire a more concerted read'
Garden News

'An engaging, enchantingly illustrated global study by plant ecologist and conservationist Paul Smith'

'Very beautiful'
The Future Forest Company

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: PLC (no jacket)

Size: 28.0 x 23.0 cm

Extent: 320 pp

Illustrations: 450

Publication date: 6 October 2022

ISBN: 9780500024058

Contents List


1. Seeds
2. Leaves
3. Form
4. Bark
5. Wood
6. Flowers
7. Fruits
8. Symbiosis
9. Trees and Us

About the Author

Paul Smith has worked in conservation for over twenty-five years and joined Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) as its Secretary General in March 2015.
He recently co-authored the ‘State of the World’s Trees’ report, published on 1 September 2021 as part of the IUCN World Conservation Congress, an event driving action on nature-based recovery, biodiversity and climate change. He was previously Head of Kew Garden’s Millennium Seed Bank (MSB), London, where he oversaw its
conservations of seeds from more than 25,000 species.

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