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Seeing Trees: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees

By Nancy Ross Hugo and Robert Llewellyn

My favorite new book this season… made for us nearsighted gardeners, who long ago learned the thrill of peering at plants.

New York Times

Have you ever looked at a tree? That may sound like a silly question, but there is so much more to notice about a tree than first meets the eye. Seeing Trees celebrates seldom-seen but easily observable tree traits and invites you to watch trees with the same care and sensitivity that birdwatchers watch birds. Many people, for example, are surprised to learn that oaks and maples have flowers, much less flowers that are astonishingly beautiful when viewed up close.

Focusing on widely grown trees, this captivating book describes the rewards of careful and regular tree viewing, outlines strategies for improving your observations, and describes some of the most visually interesting tree structures, including leaves, flowers, buds, leaf scars, twigs, and bark. In-depth profiles of ten familiar species — including such beloved trees as white oak, southern magnolia, white pine, and tulip poplar — show you how to recognize and understand many of their most compelling (but usually overlooked) physical features.

Nancy Ross Hugo's delightful text and Robert Llewellyn's breathtaking photographs deliver a steady stream of small astonishments that not only underscore the fascinating physiology of trees but will bring you into a closer, more intimate relationship with these miracles of nature.

Awards for this book: National Outdoor Book Award


Media reviews

"Llewellyn's extraordinarily crisp photographs alone force the reader to consider trees differently, if only because there are so few illustrations of entire trees, trunk, crown and all."

—Brigid Gaffikin, San Francisco Chronicle

"My favorite new book this season. ... Made for us nearsighted gardeners, who long ago learned the thrill of peering at plants."

—Dominique Browning, New York Times

"Vivid, fascinating botanical biographies."

Reader's Digest

"A beautifully produced and photographed new book. I highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to know more about this fascinating group of plants both in the wild or in your backyard."

—Stephen Orr, MarthaStewart.com

"An idiosyncratic portrait of common trees and their life span, Hugo's book introduces aspects of tree culture that delight and bemuse."

—Mary Ellen Snodgrass, American Reference Books Annual

"Through [Llewellyn's] lens we take flight with a red maple's charming helicopter-like seed pods and can almost feel the smooth, muscular, steel-gray bark of an ironwood."

Houston Chronicle

"A splendid book."

Philadelphia Inquirer

"Hugo writes with real passion about trees. ... She is articulate and enthusiastic, making this an ideal volume for beginning observers of trees."

Book News

"A beautiful and exciting book."


"If you love trees, or if you love good photography, you will love this book."

—Kathy Purdy, Cold Climate Gardening

"The resulting images are full of detail."

Outdoor Photographer

"You will begin to appreciate trees in a whole new way."


"Opens our eyes to a tree's shy magnificence and invites us to deepen our relationship with these earthly treasures."


"If you love books and nature, this is one to own for reference and to ponder during the long winter months."

Red Dirt Ramblings

"A gorgeous book, a great reference and a beautiful addition to the nature lover’s bookshelf."


"You can't help but be bowled over by the beauty at play in the science."

Chicago Tribune

"The authors have brought the level of observation to new heights."

Washington Post

"This fascinating celebration of trees will delight gardeners, botanists, students of natural history, and nature photographers."

Library Journal

"The book to change us all into unabashed tree worshippers."

Seattle Times

"You'll be dazzled."

Cleveland Plain Dealer

"A botanical masterpiece."

Horticulture Magazine

"A slow turn through the pages of this extraordinary dissection of ten not-so-uncommon trees is, in fact, a short course in the fine art of seeing."

Ottawa Citizen

"After taking in the fragile beauty of a decaying red oak leaf ... you will find it impossible to hurry past any tree."

Chicago Tribune

"Filled with surprises."

—Sandy Hausman, WVTV

"This seems like the sort of book which sprinkles a bit of fairy dust on something we see everyday, so that just taking a walk or stepping outside feels magical and fresh."

North Coast Gardening

"The only way I can describe my reaction to receiving Seeing Trees was like a child being taken into a sweet shop."


"Hugo writes with real passion about trees. ... Beautifully produced and fascinating to read."

Reference and Research Book News

"A whole new world of tree mystery has opened up."

Danger Garden blog

"Filled with arresting close-ups."

—Mary Beth Breckenridge, Akron Beacon Journal

"Gorgeous images & observations."

—Kathy Zarsky, Holos Collaborative

"Their call to seeing what nature offers is magical and the photographs are works of art."

—Jim Chatfield, Beacon Journal

"A captivating book."


"Will take your breath away."


"A beautifully produced and photographed new book."

—Stephen Orr, editorial director, Martha Stewart Living

About the authors

Nancy Ross Hugo

Nancy Ross Hugo has been writing, lecturing, and teaching about trees, native plants, and floral design for over 30 years. Her writing has appeared in Horticulture, Fine Gardening, American Forests, Country Journal, Virginia Living, and Country Life.

Read more about Nancy Ross Hugo

Robert Llewellyn

Robert Llewellyn’s photographs have been featured in major art exhibits, and more than thirty books currently in print. His book, Empires of the Forest: Jamestown and the Beginning of America, won five national awards in nonfiction and photography, and Washington: The Capital was an official diplomatic gift of the White House and State Department.

Read more about Robert Llewellyn

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