The Tree

  • by Colin Tudge
  • Narrated by Enn Reitel
  • 19 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

There are redwoods in California that were ancient by the time Columbus first landed and pines still alive that germinated around the time humans invented writing. There are Douglas firs as tall as skyscrapers and a banyan tree in Calcutta as big as a football field.
From the tallest to the smallest, trees inspire wonder in all of us, and in The Tree, Colin Tudge travels around the world - throughout the United States, the Costa Rican rain forest, Panama and Brazil, India, New Zealand, China, and most of Europe - bringing to life stories and facts about the trees around us: how they grow old, how they eat and reproduce, how they talk to one another (and they do), and why they came to exist in the first place. He considers the pitfalls of being tall; the things that trees produce, from nuts and rubber to wood; and even the complicated debt that we as humans owe them.
Tudge takes us to the Amazon in flood, when the water is deep enough to submerge the forest entirely and fish feed on fruit while river dolphins race through the canopy. He explains the "memory" of trees: how those that have been shaken by wind grow thicker and sturdier while those attacked by pests grow smaller leaves the following year; and reveals how it is that the same trees found in the United States are also native to China (but not Europe).
From tiny saplings to centuries-old redwoods and desert palms, from the backyards of the American heartland to the rain forests of the Amazon and the bamboo forests, Colin Tudge takes the listener on a journey through history and illuminates our ever-present but often ignored companions. A blend of history, science, philosophy, and environmentalism, The Tree is an engaging and elegant look at the life of trees and what modern research tells us about their future.

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What the Critics Say

"Enchanting.... Tudge sees grandeur in how trees exist in the world...and demonstrates it with fascinating stories." (New York Times Book Review)
"Tudge writes in the great tradition of naturalists such as Humboldt and John Muir.... Eloquent and deeply persuasive." (Los Angeles Times)
"To be both scientifically literate and lyrically inclined is a unique gift, and justly celebrated whenever we encounter it, in Lewis Thomas, for example, or in Stephen Jay Gould. Colin Tudge is such an individual." (Melissa Fay Green, Washington Post)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Not the book described in the Audible summary

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

Based on the publisher's summary, and a fascinating opening chapter, I was disappointed that much of the book is a tedious taxonomy. Much attention is paid to Latin names and cataloging; the really interesting facts about trees are buried in all of that.


What aspect of Enn Reitel’s performance would you have changed?

The narrator has a style that's somehow sing-song and monotonous at the same time.


Was The Tree worth the listening time?

I only made it halfway through the book before returning it. I'm sure readers who are interested in the minutiae of class, order, family, etc. will enjoy it.


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- E. Miller

Informative and great listening

Nice review of many tree species. Great review of taxonomy. Would recommend to any one interested in botany and natural history of tress.
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- Pb

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-05-2016
  • Publisher: Random House Audio