Thomas Pakenham: Three Books on Trees

2011 is the International Year of Forests, so in honour of forests, Ook would like to introduce some books by Irish author and photographer Thomas Pakenham, which he hopes will make you look at trees with new eyes.

Meetings With Remarkable Trees is about magnificent trees growing in Great Britain and Ireland: ancient trees, enormous trees, unique trees. There are thousand-year-old trees, historically-significant trees, and trees big enough to live inside. The photographs are beautiful, making this a book over which to linger. The essay on each tree provides history, science, and anecdotes, as well as Pakenham’s personal reflections on and reactions to that tree.

Remarkable Trees of the World does the same thing for trees from all around the globe: a bristlecone pine more than three thousand years old, a chapel that is an oak tree, an Australian baobob once used as a prison.

Pakenham is fascinated by the weird shapes of the trees in the genus Adansonia, the various baobobs found in Madagascar, Africa, and Australia. His third three book, The Remarkable Baobob, is dedicated solely to these, which he describes as resembling elephants and dancers. This book takes you to see groves of graceful baobobs in the Madagascar sunset, to witness “boabs” flowering in Australia, and to visit a giant in South Africa currently used as a pub.

Pakenham’s books are not only testaments to the beauty and wonder of the trees; they’re pleas for the preservation of these remarkable organisms and reminders of the impact they have had on humans, and we on them, throughout human history.