“Reams of appealing facts make one itch to get outside and right up close to trees’ rough surfaces and shady cover.”—The Atlantic
New York Times–bestselling author Tristan Gooley opens our eyes to the secret language of trees—and the natural wonders they reveal all around us
Trees are keen to tell us so much. They’ll tell us about the land, the water, the people, the animals, the weather, and time. And they will tell us about their lives, the good bits and bad. Trees tell a story, but only to those who know how to read it.
In How to Read a Tree, Gooley uncovers the clues hiding in plain sight: in a tree’s branches and leaves; its bark, buds, and flowers; even its stump. Leaves with a pale, central streak mean that water is nearby. Young, low-growing branches show that a tree is struggling. And reddish or purple bark signals new growth.
Like snowflakes, no two trees are exactly the same. Every difference reveals the epic story this tree has lived—if we stop to look closely.
About the Author
TRISTAN GOOLEY is the New York Times–bestselling author of How to Read Water, How to Read Nature, The Natural Navigator, The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs, The Secret World of Weather, and The Nature Instinct. He has led expeditions on five continents, climbed mountains in three, and is the only living person to have both flown and sailed solo across the Atlantic. His more than two decades of pioneering outdoor experience include research among tribal peoples in some of the remotest regions on Earth.
Sunday Times Top 10 Bestseller
An Indie Bestseller
"An important book and a pleasure to read.
— Raynor Winn, author of The Salt Path
We would be lucky to be lost in a forest with [Tristan Gooley]. Not just to find our way out—something he could surely help with—but to find our way in: to see what the trees are telling us about the Earth we all find ourselves a part of.
— The Atlantic
Gooley interprets clues like a private investigator of the wilds. . . . For those inclined to solve mysteries written into the landscape, this author’s lead is one they’ll want to follow.
— The Wall Street Journal
How to Read a Tree is so packed with information . . . it will undoubtedly leave you with a deeper appreciation of trees. . . . Your country walks will never be quite the same again.
— Daily Mail
You will never look at a tree in the same way again after reading this mesmerizing book. Gooley drops learning as lightly as a blossom falls in spring.
— John Lewis-Stempel, author of The Wood
Tristan Gooley has done trees the greatest service. In this gentle, enchanting book he leads us into their language—how to spot their natural tendencies and individual foibles, and to recognize their responses to stress and ingenious strategies to survive. And with these insights he arouses an even deeper affection and concern for trees—our friends and allies, with whose fate our own is inextricably bound.
— Isabella Tree, author of Wilding
Wherever you are—city or wilderness—if you want to understand the secrets of trees you pass, this is the book to read. . . . Tristan has the rare gift of explaining the most complex ideas with humour and deep insight.
— Peter Thomas, author of Trees
It was a lightbulb moment! I thought I knew my local woods—I walk there almost every day. But it’s a thrill to see it through fresh eyes, to develop a much deeper understanding.
— Peter Gibbs, Chair BBC Gardeners’ Question Time
How to Read a Tree builds on the joy that we take in trees—with some handy facts to go alongside that joy.
— BBC Radio 4
Trees can reveal fascinating secrets. . . . This book will add a new dimension to your next countryside stroll.