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Books & Essays

  • Book Cover

    Teaching the Trees: Lessons from the Forest

    Date Published:
    University of Georgia Press 2005

    In this collection of natural-history essays, biologist Joan Maloof embarks on a series of lively, fact-filled expeditions into forests of the eastern United States. Through Maloof?s engaging, conversational style, each essay offers a lesson in stewardship as it explores the interwoven connections between a tree species and the animals and insects whose lives depend on it?and who, in turn, work to ensure the tree?s survival.

    Never really at home in a laboratory, Maloof took to the woods early in her career. Her enthusiasm for firsthand observation in the wild spills over into her writing, whether the subject is the composition of forest air, the eagle?s preference for nesting in loblolly pines, the growth rings of the bald cypress, or the gray squirrel?s fondness for weevil-infested acorns. With a storyteller?s instinct for intriguing particulars, Maloof expands our notions about what a tree ?is? through her many asides?about the six species of leafhoppers who eat only sycamore leaves or the midges who live inside holly berries and somehow prevent them from turning red.

    As a scientist, Maloof accepts that trees have a spiritual dimension that cannot be quantified. As an unrepentant tree hugger, she finds support in the scientific case for biodiversity. As an activist, she can?t help but wonder how much time is left for our forests.

    Book Review #1:
    "Walk along with Joan Maloof through a forest, and you will see, hear, and smell stories better than anything on the Discovery Channel or, for that matter, in the Brothers Grimm. These are parables to live with, offered by a storyteller-biologist who is one part Thoreau on fruits, one part Alcock on insects, and one part Rilke on poetry."
    ?Gary Paul Nabhan, author of Cross-Pollinations: The Marriage of Science and Poetry

    Book Review #2:
    "In Teaching the Trees, Joan Maloof combines science, heart, and spirit as a wonderful reminder of how important, special, and sacred trees are to us and to our world. Use this book as your call to action to conserve, protect, and restore our earth's trees and forests."
    ?Julia Butterfly Hill