Give a Tree Book for the Holidays

books on shelf arranged to be a treeThe Christmas/Hanukah season has a strong connection to trees. Buying a stately Fraser fir or setting up the synthetic Christmas tree is standard operating procedure for many families at this time of year. Although it is less likely now, dreidels used to be made out of wood, as were many toys of the past. And how about “Over the river and through the WOODS to Grandmothers house we go?” Trees galore! So, how about a book on trees for the holidays, especially for someone who is beginning their journey into the natural world or on the other end of the spectrum for someone who has a deep interest and can’t get enough information? Here are a few Tree Stewards favorites to consider for the newbie tree aficionado or the seasoned veteran on your list.

Sibley bookThe all time go to book for tree lovers is “The Sibley Guide to Trees” by David Allen Sibley.  Sibley is best known for his books on birds and to help bird watchers he decided to write and illustrate a book on trees.  The book has become a classic.  Full of illustrations of trees, leaves. and fruit, it can help you identify many species both in the winter and the summer.

Nora Palmatier, TreeSteward’s president likes “Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture, Propogation and Uses” by Michael Dirr.  This is Nora’s go to book because it has information about every common tree and most of their cultivars.  Details that are hard to remember are what it specializes in: rate of growth, diseases and Insects, size, hardiness etc.  This is one tomb of a book (1330 pages), definitely for the serious tree student. If you are thinking of this, be sure and get the hard back copy if you go that route. The paperback copy is not as hardy (no pun intended) and if used too much will fall apart. It is now available on iPads but not on Kindles.

PeppermintWhat about for kids? There are many books introducing children to our natural world and listing all the books would be a book in itself. For something different Rod Simmons, Alexandria’s Natural Resource Specialist, suggests a lovely brand new children’s book, “Isabella’s Peppermint Flowers”. Young readers can learn about Virginia’s colonial history as well as key aspects of botany. The book is available from All profits will be donated by the author, Susan Leopold, to the Flora of Virginia Project

Locally we are very fortunate to have another newly published book “Field Guide to the Natural World of Washington D.C.” by Howard Youth. This is a beautiful book that not only shares information on local trees but wildlife (from the lowly earthworm to raccoons and deer), plants (even mushrooms) and birds. The book is beautifully illustrated with gorgeous prints that are frame worthy.

Native treesAnother one of our Tree Stewards, Bonnie Petrie, claims her favorite tree book is “Native Trees for North American Landscapes” by Guy Sternberg and Jim Wilson.  According to Bonnie the pictures in this book are “simply gorgeous”.  For someone who is simply seeking to satisfy curiosity that arises during a hike, this book is a winner.

And lastly if you’re looking for inspiration, try Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax.” Beth Bosecker (a 2014 Tree Stewards graduate) has a favorite quote from the book: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” This book inspired her when she was young to keep up her interest in nature and trees and it helped in her decision as a young person to move forward in her career as an environmental scientist, a master naturalist, and a tree steward.

The Lorax is an inspiration for all tree lovers

The Lorax is an inspiration for all tree lovers

Hope this scratches an itch and just so you know, I found all these books on either Amazon or ABE books.  Many, if not most, are available digitally as well.

Happy Reading,

TreeSteward Eileen Grant

About TreeStewards

TreeStewards of Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia, are trained volunteers who work to protect, preserve, and enhance urban tree canopy through public education and volunteer activities such as planting, pruning, and caring for trees.
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2 Responses to Give a Tree Book for the Holidays

  1. John Wingard says:

    Although it is out of print, used copies are still readily available on The book is ” A Pocket Guide to Trees” by Rutherford Platt. This is the book that turned me on to trees when I was a pre-teen. The style of writing and the illustrations are wonderful for young people, and anyone can afford a good used copy if you can find it on Amazon. The perfect starter book for children and teenagers.

  2. I really like Seeing Trees by Nancy Hugo and Robert Llewellyn, too. That one doubles as a great present for people into photography.

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