"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Saturday, June 26, 2021


I love trees.

Who doesn't?

Whenever we visit a new region or locale I pay attention to the trees, often asking locals for the names of the spectacular beauties I am seeing for the first time. Often people do not have a clue of the names or even of the particular trees I am addressing. "What tree?" "The tree on the corner of the nearby intersection that is covered with gorgeous purple flowers."  "Oh, I don't know. In fact, I don't think I've even noticed that tree." "Egads," I think, "How can you miss a tree of such spectacular beauty?" I want to fall on the ground and worship it and they don't even see it.

I discovered, after much digging and prodding, that the purple-flowered tree was a jacaranda and locals didn't see its beauty but were only aware of its mess when the purple blossoms fell to the ground and discolored the pavement. Imagine my delight when I turned to page 172 in Around the World in 80 Trees to discover an entry on the Blue Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia) where the author, Jonathan Drori, describes the tree as one of the best imports from Argentina and explains that it is a popular and beautiful tree planted as street trees in many temperate-climate cities. "For two months the entire tree is densely blanketed in bee-beckoning clusters of fragrant, lavender-blue trumpets, hallucinatorily intense blossoms that compels the gaze and lifts the spirits." Clearly Drori and I think alike, though he uses even more evocative words than I. He has also encountered the grumps among us who complain about the falling blossoms. "As the petals fall, they lay a purple carpet underneath -- a joy to all except the neat-freaks and occasional mean-spirited motorists complaining about the stains on their paintwork." Opposite the text by Drori are gorgeous and fascinating illustrations of the tree being described by Lucille Clerc. Usually the illustrations include several aspects of the trees and includes blossoms and fruit, if applicable.

Text on one side followed by at least one full page of illustrations.

The book is organized to discuss trees in one region before moving on to describe trees in another region, highlighting only 80 trees altogether. But what a selection. There are, for example, eleven trees highlighted from Northern Europe, five from the Eastern Mediterranean, seven from Oceania, etc. Many of the trees I was familiar with, like the Sugar Maple from Canada, but I usually learned something new about the tree by reading Drori's brief description of it. But the unusual and new-to-me trees far outnumbered the familiar -- Cork Oak (Portugal), Argan (Morocco), Kapok (Sierra Leone), Sève Bleue (New Calidonia), Kauri (New Zealand), Quinine (Peru), Yaupon (USA) -- to name a few.

Here are just a few fun facts I learned:

  • The bark of the kapok tree of Sierra Leone is covered with menacing thorns, like those on rose bushes. They are the tallest trees of the whole African continent and the shade they cast provide pleasant meeting places for individuals or groups. They have a strong association with well-being, both physical and mental (81.)
  • The argon trees of Morocco or Algeria, though thorny and slow-growing, attract goats. It is not uncommon to see an argon tree full of goats who have figured out not only how to climb the tree, but how to avoid the thorns as they seek out its fruit (45.)
  • The sève bleue grows in a fairly inhospitable island of New Calidonia which has a lot of nickel, a poison, in the soil. If the tree is notched, the sap is bright blue and contains high levels of nickel. This puts a spin on an old adage, thrive where you are planted (158).
  • Yaupon or Indian black tea has a scientific name of ilex vomitoria because European invaders to North America thought erroneously it made people throw up. It is an excellent source of caffeine, can be easily found from Texas to Florida, and makes a tea that tastes a little like oolong.

If, like me, you love trees and enjoy learning new details about them, Around the World in 80 Trees is just the book for you.

My rating: 5 stars.



  1. The jacarandas in Santa Barbara are in full bloom right now. We have TONS of them all over town and I love the purple flowers (but, yes, they make a mess).

    1. I'm jealous. The trees must look so lovely if they line streets or brighten parks.

  2. This looks like it's a very beautiful book. I love that illustration you show!

  3. This sounds lovely, the illustrations look charming, too. What a great idea for a book!

    1. It really was very clever and so well done. The illustrations made the book extra special.


I look forward to your comments and interactions! Join in the conversation.