At the risk of being identified as a non-native transplant, I must admit that I share Special Agent Cooper’s sentiments. The trees of the Pacific Northwest are amazing. Along with the sense of wonder comes a (perhaps unhealthy at times) desire to identify and learn more about the trees in the area. Luckily there is a wealth of information here at the Everett Public Library to help a tree enthusiast, if that is the correct term, find out more.
If your goal is to simply identify the tree, there are several guides from which to choose. The colorful and compact Sibley Guide to Trees is a good place to start. Illustrations of the leaves, fruit and bark of each tree are aids to identification and the coverage is nationwide.
For the diehard tree fancier, or simply the leaf obsessed, there is the Book of Leaves by Allen Coombes. Each leaf is shown at its actual size, though some editing was required for the Bigleaf Maple.
If you are willing to forgo comprehensive coverage in exchange for more in-depth information, two titles may be what you are looking for. The World of Trees by Hugh Johnson is well-organized, beautiful and chock full of useful and fascinating facts. Particularly helpful is the illustrated chart of growth rates. Now you can see just how soon that Sequoia you planted will dwarf your house. Trees: A Visual Guide is also stunning with the authors choosing a set of “remarkable trees of the world” to identify. How remarkable you ask? Try to deny your curiosity about a tree named the Strangler Fig.
Not surprisingly, the most fun, unique and quirky tree books come from the Pacific Northwest. One of my favorites is the innocuous sounding Trees of Seattle by Arthur Lee Jacobson. This labor of love lists over 1,300 different types of trees that reside within the city of Seattle. Each tree is documented and specific locations are given. The entries are opinionated and humorous while still being informative. Take this example from the entry for the Zelkova tree:
Of no floral beauty, yielding no useful fruit, Zelkova is, at least while young, decidedly plain. Its most interesting credit may be a name beginning with Z.
Ouch. Let’s hope there is a Trees of Everett someday.
Another gem is Northwest Trees by Stephen Arno & Ramona Hammerly. Exclusively about the trees native to the Northwest, this guide goes into great detail describing the appearance, location, ecological role, and history of each species. Every entry is accompanied by exquisite sketches of each tree in its natural habitat. Much more than a simple identification guide, this book borders on being a work of art.
So make a note to yourself to check out the tree books at the Library. They’re really something.