International nursery stock trade fair

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Column 3: Jan Voogd


Het verborgen leven van bomen (the secret life of trees)

Author: Colin Tudge

ISBN 90-274-8468-6



In the past, multiple good books were published about the life and care of trees, such as

  • Bomen laten leven by Jorn Copijn, ISBN 90 60 30 200 1;
  • Het verborgen leven van bomen by Peter Wohlleben, 2016, ISBN 978 94 005 0732 6;
  • Het bomenboek by Koos van Zomeren, 2008, ISBN 978 90 295 6657 5.


But the most fascinating book I’ve read on the subject so far is “Het verborgen leven van bomen” (the secret life of trees), 2006, by Colin Tudge. Yes, the same title as the book by Peter Wohlleben.


The review about Collins’ book states the following:

Het verborgen leven van bomen/The secret life of trees shows how trees live, grow, reproduce, cooperate, or struggle.


The book tells you where they come from and how they know when the sun comes up. It also describes how humans use trees and how important trees are to our society. It is not just an informative book, but also a compelling one, with many wondrous stories and surprising details. Tudge is able to get his fascination with trees across to readers with enthusiasm. And I for one think he has succeeded. Tudge talked to numerous experts and specialists on all liveable continents.


He describes for example how trees respond to high temperatures and extreme drought, but also the speed of climate change. How photosynthesis works in these circumstances, but also how other forms of life respond to this. The bacteria, fungi, invertebrates regarding the leaf waste, but also the regenerating capacity of trees in those circumstances.  A very important subject given our current weather conditions, and the expectations of the past few years.


Another extreme that trees have to deal with are floods, and the wet conditions that are the result from floods. Colin gives an example of a flood of the Sequoia sempervirens, which grow at the central and northern coast of California. In case of a flood, when the stems are covered in about a metre of soil, they manage to survive. Most trees do not survive something like this, due to suffocation of the roots. However, the sequoias are able to direct their root shots vertically upwards, right into the layer of sludge on top of it. These grow so fast, that sometimes, they just burst through the surface. However, they are just a temporary solution, the front troops. A little while later, new side roots will emerge from the buried base of the trunk, right below the surface of the recently deposited sludge. These roots are usually bigger and heavier compared to the previous set of roots.


These, and many more fun facts and useful bits of information about the many trees in the world will increase your knowledge of trees, but certainly also your enthusiasm for them.


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