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Few things on earth combine beauty and practicality as do trees. Think about it: how many times today have you encountered trees and their produce? Used a pencil? Read a paper? Written a letter? Had an apple?

Trees help to scrub the air and to control the earth's temperature. We plant them to commemorate events and people; we shape them into boats to explore and conquer. Many across the land have stood through centuries as silent witnesses to battles, pledges, trysts. We carve them into objects to use and admire. We use them to communicate, to make medicines and to keep warm. They provide shelter and food for a host of wildlife, and for people, too; sometimes they even provide us clothing! They shade us in summer and give us conkers to play with in the autumn. Their varied shapes, colours and moods beguile us through the seasons, from their irrepressible burst of new leaves and blossoms in spring to their stark splendour against the winter sky, and swathes of dark evergreens cloaked in snow.

This month's collections offer a small taste of the way trees have captured - indeed, demand - our attention and weave their way through our lives, our history, our art and architecture and our folklore.

- Mandy Marvin.

Trees, Inverness-shire [link to larger image] Fairy Tree [link to larger image] New Forest [link to larger image] Tree Foundation poster [link to larger image]
Images copyright University of St Andrews Library; D. Parkinson (Mysterious Britain); Bodleian Library, University of Oxford; Tree Council.


  • Tree Foundation: scientist Solly Zuckerman (1904-1993) became a Trustee in 1978
  • Richard St Barbe Baker (1889-1982): founder of the Men of the Trees Society, later the International Tree Foundation
  • William Gilpin (1724-1804): clergyman, educationalist, and topographer, who made watercolours of Hampshire's New Forest
  • Trees and Plants on the Malabar Coast: 18th century drawings of India's southwest coast
  • Robert Moyes Adam (1885-1967): botanist, illustrator, and landscape photographer
  • Sir James Hall (1761-1832): argued that Gothic architecture was inspired by simple "wattle" buildings (made from interwoven branches and twigs)
  • Robert Kirk (c. 1641-1692): clergyman and Gaelic scholar, whose spirit is believed to reside in a 'fairy tree'
  • Robin Hill (1899-1991): biochemist and meteorologist who studied photosynthesis
  • JM Caborn (died 1986): forestry lecturer and meteorologist
  • Geoffrey H.S. Wood (1927-1957): forest botanist>
  • Mark Louden Anderson (1895-1961): Professor of Forestry
  • Shelton H. Short (born 1926): expert in forest management
  • Arthur Roy Clapham (1904-1990): Professor of Botany and author of the Oxford Book of Trees (1975)

Suggested reading

Links are provided to records on Copac for these items. Copac is the free, web based national union catalogue, containing the holdings of many of the major university and National Libraries in UK and Ireland plus a number of special libraries. For more information about accessing items see the FAQs on the Copac website.

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