Duck Duck Book

16 – trees of greater portland
04.6.2005, 12:04 am
Filed under: technology

Trees of greater Portland / Phyllis C. Reynolds and Elizabeth F. Dimon.
Portland, Or. : Timber Press, c1993.
[MCL call number: 635.977 R464t; 17 copies, one hold; one copy reference only at Central Library]

This is an extensive reference book to notable trees of our city. It is arranged like an encyclopedia, with entries arranged by scientific species name. Each entry includes a description of the natural history, culture, and qualities of the species, and one or more photographs of the tree as it is found in Portland. Notable individuals of each species are listed by address, together with the tree’s circumference and diameter. Historical notes about particular individuals are sometimes included as well.

The authors explain in their introduction that for a particular tree to be included, it must be healthy, beautiful, and relatively mature. Certainly there is a focus on particularly large examples of each species. Portland’s Heritage Trees are highlighted (though other venerable individuals are also included), and trees that live on private property are listed, but only those that are visible from the public street. The main text is followed by an appendix discussing the best times to observe Portland’s trees, one listing our largest trees, and a third providing a series of walking tours that provide an introduction to the special trees of nine different Portland neighborhoods. There is a glossary and an index.

I suppose that long-time readers of this booklist will naturally begin to understand some of what interests me intellectually and for entertainment. Trees of Greater Portland meets two of these interests: the first, in gardening, botany, and plants in general, is recent; the other is of longer standing. I have a kind of intense civico-pietistic compulsion, and am fascinated by books and other intellectual objects that provide information and observations about the history and the fabric of my home city. Perhaps my readers do not share this combination of passions; but for those who do, this is an essential book. For anyone else who would like to practice identifying tree species, or who wants to see what a truly mature Pacific Dogwood or London Plane Tree looks like, it will also be useful.


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