You come home after a good day in the field, pantlegs smelling of sage, cradling a cluster of needles still in their sheath. A field guide supplied you a genus and species under the noonday sun. Now Donald Curloss Peattie’s masterful study can take you the next step and root you in a tree’s particular natural history, especially its niche in the cultural history of a region.
For each tree, Peattie gives us a concise list of vital features, followed by a more wide-ranging essay. It’s clear that he not only knows a tree’s length and breadth, but also its sensual delights. And last, but not least, in one of the most inspired pairings of authors and illustrators, Paul Landacre’s bold scratchboard etchings puts this work in a class by itself!
pictured above: A Natural History of North American Trees (the most recent single-volume edition of Donald Curloss Peattie’s original two volume set), and one of the original volumes from that set, A Natural History of Western Trees.
And here’s a typical page from Peattie & Landacre’s classic work:
It was a perfect collaboration, the words of Donald Curloss Peattie and the bold imagery of Paul Landacre:
Black Walnut Juglans nigra