by Steve Parker
Compass Point, 2010. 48 pgs. Non-fiction.
Cumbersome title, fabulous book. Parker's well-written, beautifully illustrated volume is a smorgasbord--in format and content--of fascinating information on conifers. From prehistoric cycads (whose leaves were eaten by the dinosaurs) to modern pine, fir, and hundreds of variants, the history of conifers is laid bare along with any number of arcane facts. Did you know that juniper and other conifer woods are burned as incense in Buddhist temples? that conifers that grow in swamps have node-like roots that protrude above the ground/water because the tree can't get enough oxygen otherwise? Did you know that the longbows of medieval warfare were made from yew wood because of its perfect combination of strength and elasticity? Redwoods, Hemlock, and other Cone-Bearing Plants is one volume in the Kingdom Classification series. I can hardly wait to read the rest.