A New Face of an Old Friend

Neal Lemery

I keep a plastic container in my truck with what I consider my “essential” traveling library of nature guides.  I am always running across an unusual bird, plant or animal that piques my curiosity and I want to immediately know more about what I’ve observed.  Yet, one glaring gap in my collection has been a guide on trees.

Now, I’ve filled that gap with OSU Extension’s latest edition of Trees to Know in Oregon and Washington, by Edward Jensen. (https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/ec1450  (2020).  Its 172 pages are packed with comprehensive descriptions, identifiers, and engaging information about both native and popular trees and tall shrubs of the Pacific Northwest and northern California.  The photos are excellent and informative, and the climate change discussions quickly grabbed my interest.

 This book and its eleven prior editions have a long history with my own family’s interest in trees.  The original version, published in 1950, had a special place in our living room’s bookcase, and always accompanied us on road trips and camping expeditions. It became tattered with use, with special trees marked with bookmarks made from newspaper clippings and snippets of leaves and twigs scavenged from the sites of many tree identifications and conversations. Faded copies of my mother’s favorite poems about nature occupied the insides of the cover. 

The latest edition is a bargain. For $20, you have an encyclopedic resource, including easy to use keys and numerous photographs to help you identify our region’s trees.  I’m still savoring the wealth of information and I plan to read it cover to cover before it finds its way to my pickup’s mobile library on the wonders of nature. 

The book is well and sensibly organized, with several sections discussing various types of forests, the impact of climate change, with indexes and text cross referencing both scientific and common names. 

I expect my copy of the latest edition will soon also have its collection of woody bookmarks, and a few copies of favorite poems and articles on trees.

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