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Posted by: atowhee | July 7, 2019

TREE FACTS AND NOT FACTS

To understand forest bathing I just read In the Company of Trees by Andrea Fereshteh.  It is an interesting book with lovely photos of each topic and one page f text on each species or specimen tree.  Don;t quote this book in your PhD thesis, however.  Here’s the bit of snark I sent to the CBS-owned publisher of said book:

July 8, 2019
820 NW 19th Street
McMinnville, OR

 

 

Meredith O’Hayre
Director of Managing Editorial
Adams Media
Imprint of Simon & Schuster
57 Littlefield Street
Avon, Mass.   02323

 

 

 

Dear Ms O’Hayre:
I just finished reading one of your recent publications, In the Company of Trees (2019).  Overall it was a rewarding read.  The author spends a bit too much time relating myth and legend and quasi-religious superstitions about various trees.  Not so helpful in an age where there is an all-out assault on facts by those who benefit most by feeding lies to the gullible public.  But your author means well.

I cannot say the same for your editorial efforts, such as they may have been.  I know you are owned by CBS and I, too, worked for that corporation through numerous cut-backs and lay offs.  I know that any major corporation today thinks of profits first, last and always.  If the product happens to be worthwhile or even to impart pleasure or knowledge, that’s beside the point. Editorial work can cost real money, heaven forefend. As a person who spent my life finding and trying to impart facts I must point out some easily avoided anti-facts in this book

On page 84 the headline reads “…Europe’s Oldest Tree” and then the text states this Italian pine is 1,230 years old.  On the very next subject tree, on page 87, the text reads about a Norway spruce, “…able to gauge the tree’s age to be more than 9,500 years old.”  Two points: Italy and Sweden, where the spruce lives, are both in Europe, have been for ages.  I do numbers okay and I can tell you 9,500 is much greater than 1,230, regardless of what any politician might say in any tweet.

A slightly more subtle but telling falsehood can be found on page 147, talking about oaks “…often have hidden root systems that expand as far and wide as the visible trees themselves.”  Modern science has found oaks often have root systems many times deeper and wider than the above ground part of the tree.  True of many trees, like the cherry that has invaded my entire garden.

Then, insult added to ignorance.  On page 148 about flowering dogwoods, which happen to be among my favorite trees: “…in neighborhoods up and down the East Coast and west to Texas.”  Ouch.  So the Pacific dogwood and the red osier dogwood found in many western states don’t matter?  If the author means only and specifically Cornus florida, a wise editor would have thrown in somewhere on that uncrowded page: “One of our most beloved dogwood species.”

 

Here’s to the trees,
long may they stand,

 

Harry Fuller

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