The Meaning of Trees is a personal exploration of Robert Vennell’s relationship with, and love of, plants. The preface gives a taste of the depth of his knowledge and the rest of the book is a testament to his passion.
After taking us through an introduction to the story of plants in New Zealand and how they have shaped our way of life, the book explores how the plants have been used, viewed and the true meanings of their names. The selections of native plants included have been prioritised by the ones the author finds most interesting.
The book looks and feels beautiful. The paintings and botanical illustrations have been sourced from our national museums and archives. The individually credited photographs, which clearly show the important or relevant part of each plant, merge with the illustrations delightfully due to the matt reproduction. The spacious and classically simple layout of the pages makes the information easy to access. The introduction gives you a handy tool to help remember classification order (Kiwis Play Cricket on Flat Green Surfaces = Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species) and this knowledge increased my enjoyment of the boxes about taxonomy (classification) and etymology (origins).
This book could be dipped into or to read from cover to cover. It would also make a good partnership to fiction set in our native bush as it is fascinating to read about the many uses we have found for the plants that sustain us. However, it does come with a warning that the way we have used them in the past is not necessarily recommended now.
Title: The Meaning of Trees
Author: Robert Vennell
Publisher: HarperCollins NZ
Date of Publication: May 2019
Reviewer’s name: Kirsten Puddick, Librarian
Reviewer’s School name: Holy Cross School, Miramar, Wellington
How highly are you recommending this book? Highly recommended for year 6 upwards.
What’s the book’s opening sentence? History books are full of tales about kings and queens, terrible battles and incredible inventions, and yet they leave out one of the most important characters of all - plants.
You can buy this book here