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The Trees in My Forest

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  778 ratings  ·  67 reviews
The soaring majesty of a virgin forest and the intertwined relationships of plant, animal and man are the subject of Bernd Heinrich's lyrical elegy. Heinrich has spent a lifetime observing the natural world, and now he shares his vast knowledge and reflections on the trees of the Northeast woods and the rhythms of their seasons. From the DNA contained in an apple seed to t ...more
Hardcover, 239 pages
Published October 1st 1997 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1997)
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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 ·  778 ratings  ·  67 reviews

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Thom Jones
Jan 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Compared to The Mind of the Raven, this Heinrich book has a much greater focus on ecosystem than individual species biology. It is excellent. It approaches the book which is my favorite in this category, Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac. The book is a beautifully written collection of essays and observations on Heinrich's forest, property he purchased more than three decades ago, in the north Maine woods. Heinrich makes well the argument for conserving natural forests and critiques the plant ...more
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A friend lent me this book saying, "It reads like a novel". True. Though a non-fiction book about the 300-acre woodland owned by the author, it is written in an easy, rambling style. Almost as good as if you were actually ambling through the woods with Mr. Heinrich, who is a biologist, naturalist, professor and award-winning runner.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in trees and our interconnectedness with them and with the whole world for that matter. I will never
Mar 14, 2019 rated it liked it
I love books that are a mix of nature, science, & nostalgia. Bernd Heinrich, a professor of biology, bought 300 acres of forest land in Maine and shared it with us tree by tree. It made me homesick for the east coast of my childhood. The red oaks, birch trees, elderberry, sugar maple, tent caterpillars, pileated woodpeckers, and even acorn caps turned into whistles. I can see them all in my head and heart. But the book is richly illustrated in pencil drawings for those unfamiliar with the pl ...more
Feb 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was an easy, entertaining and informative read. Heinrich immerses you in his 300-acre forest in Maine where he has lived for over 20 years at the time of writing. He invites you to walk with him among the stately giants in his forest and simply observe, taking in the simple yet profound wonders of the natural landscape. He knows his trees as intimately as good friends. His immense knowledge of forestry along with his poetic and philosophical writing style help to convey his sense of awe at ...more
Dec 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Heinrich has a marvelous and infectious curiosity about the way the natural world works. He communicates his sense of wonder with great effectiveness while recording observations and advancing hypotheses about the ways trees work in a forest setting and how they contribute to the functioning of an effective ecosystem. A good companion read for this book would be Colin Tudge's The Tree. Heinrich's view of the ecosystem with its keystone species as a stable product of many millennia of complex coevolut ...more
Dave Hoff
Mar 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Again, a gift book from a grandson, it's a book every Tree Farmer should have in his library. Author has a Forest Management plan and I was very pleased with his long range plans. We differ on "plantations (rows of pines) but I respect his thinking. Much info thru out the book.
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I finished this book early yesterday and began to read it again from the beginning last night. It's the best book on plants I've read in years, and it leaves the reader smiling from the newly gained knowledge of just how intelligent and capable the plant world is. Trees feed and talk with neighboring trees, and if one gets ill, the others around it of the same species will feed it and even give it water. Trees of differing species also help one another at times and in certain situations.

The boo
Feb 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, ecology
Re: the blurb: there's no "virgin forest" in this book, as Heinrich makes very clear. Also, the blurb-writer needs to look up "elegy," because there is really nothing elegiac here either.

What there is is fascinating insight into forest ecology (of a once burnt or clear-cut, regrown forest, as most New England forests are) in a rather haphazardly organized manner (just makes it more fun to read!). There are discussions of ancient equisetum forests 100 feet tall, the history of the use
Sara Van Dyck
Oct 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Wonderful read. Heinrich’s stories of his investigations in his forest show us how a scientist figures things out. He watches buds develop, measures acorns, and wonders about the growth patterns of trees. It’s all personal, intimate, and through his observations of this one patch of forest Heinrich explains a great deal of forest ecology in action. It’s careful, detailed. And then his feelings of scorn and anger emerge when he looks at the way forest management practices permit tree plantations. ...more
May 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
It's definitely important to keep in mind the differences between perspective, curiosity, and hard science while reading this book. I've heard others criticize the book for scientific inaccuracies, but I think that Heinrich was simply exploring his curiosity about trees in such a way that allowed him to further his understanding of trees and nature. This book was clearly not written to disseminate hard scientific facts, and to claim so is to lose sight of the point of the book - connection and e ...more
Nov 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
Though there was some interesting information in this book a great deal of it was either too technical or just not interesting enough to keep my attention. I was disappointed not to find it as good as his book "Winter World", which I loved.
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Trees in My Forest is an engaging tour of everything you ever wanted to know about the trees and forests of the American northeast. From the perspective of his own plot of land in Maine, Heinrich displays an intimate and intricate knowledge of everything from what exactly it is that makes something a tree, to the role of fungus in the forest, to the particular way that evergreens grow. (I'll never look at a double-stemmed pine tree in quite the same way again.) Each short, clearly written, a ...more
Mar 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019-goals
This is a lovely read about how trees have evolved over time and about the fragile ecosystem of forests. The author is excessively knowledgeable and shared tons of interesting facts. I can see why others would readily give this book four or five stars. For me, the style was too chillaxed. If I were to read excerpts out loud, I would feel the need to whisper as though I was a golf commentator. I found myself spacing out and even drifting off to sleep too frequently and having to read passages sev ...more
Jennifer Boyd
Dec 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was actually the second time I've truly sat down and read this book. I'm amazed at the appreciation the author shows for the things he notices on his land. It reminds us all to take a minute, observe and appreciate the lessons nature had to teach us. More importantly you can't read it without learning something that reminds us we have a responsibility to protect all that nature has to offer. Reading it now compared to twelve years ago, brought different feelings. Then it was a deeper apprec ...more
Shawn Dvorak
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
The story of Bernd Heinrich's love affair with a 300-acre tract of wood of Maine. The land, overgrown farm pasture and second-growth forest, was bought at a discount after a lumbering company had cleared the timber they wanted. Originally planning to keep just a small part for a cabin retreat, the author soon fell in love with the entire lot and wouldn't part with it. He also discovered that, despite the abuse and neglect it had endured, the land easily paid for itself financially. The non-finan ...more
Vincent Ribeiro
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow! Absolutely floored by what a beautiful world Bernd has gifted us. Through his eyes we enter the lives of, literally, the trees in his forest where he lives, as the title suggests. From their reproduction, their evolution, their struggle for resources like light, water, area, their fight against, and collaboration with each other, a world of life opens up to us unlike anything I would have expected. One must be truly passionate about life to be able to write essays on trees. It might be easy ...more
Mathilde Paulsen
Aug 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Rating: 3.5 stars.

This was... interesting. I listened to it as an audio-book and I mostly started it because of the cover and a feeling of wanting to learn something new. To begin with, I found the storytelling very boring and dull and I struggled to find entertainment in it. Then I started learning new things and realized I was watching the trees around my house with a new set of eyes. This was not the most engaging book, but I found it entertaining and insightful, and in the end I
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: x-2018

This thought has rolled around in my head for weeks:

"Nothing, it seemed, would now stop the extinction of yet another dominant tree species by the inadvertent introduction of an alien organism. The pathogens may have come in only a microscopic cell. But one organism, even one cell, packages enough information to wipe out the entire population of a tree species over the entire continent, despite all human efforts to control it."
Dan Carey
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Looking back, I see that I highlighted a surprising number of sections in this book. It is an exemplary nature book: informative (but avoiding mind-numbing academic data dumps) and evocative of the writer's personality.
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
Not so much a naturalists guide, although there are elements of that, but a love story of a man and his farm and its trees.
The trees are not objects but companions.
A great read for any naturalist. It captures the feelings which fostered their love of nature in the first place.
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to anyone who wants to look at trees with a little more understanding.
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2017, science
I just discovered Heinrich a few years ago but he has easily become one of my favorite science writers. He always imparts a great amount of fascinating knowledge but he does it in such a lyrical way that it is simply a joy to read his work. In this book we return to the world of A Year in the Maine Woods . The focus is on the trees but along the way there are wonderful stories of the interrelationships between the trees and other organisms including fungi, insects, and birds.

As always, at
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If nothing else, read the Appendix. Get the hard cover or paper cover to take batter advantage of the wonderful sketches, even if that seems counterintuitive to the message.
Jul 29, 2019 rated it liked it
93rd book for 2019.

I am a big fan of Heinrich's writing, but this discussion of tree biology, based mostly on observations of trees on his plot of land in Maine, didn't do much for me. Perhaps if I knew nothing about tree biology this would have been more interesting; instead I found it was either telling me things I was already familiar with or just wasn't that interesting. It was perhaps spoiled by reading Richard Powers The Overstory earlier this year, who's fictional work covers a lot of
Adam Golden
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A charming and detailed exploration of Heinrich's enchanting backyard - an expansive 300 acres of his forest in Maine. It's clear in his writing that Heinrich is passionate about his forest (which he consistently refers to as his forest), giving the reader a look into why some trees are bigger than others, grow faster, or adapt to whatever obstacles that may stand in their way. A great book about appreciating the nature that surrounds us. If only I had my own forest...
Dec 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heinrich details the lives of plants and their animal companions in his 300 acre forest in Maine, with rich, but not too intricate or cumbersome detailing. Club mosses (lycopodium) and fungi, conifers and oaks, ants and wasps, woodpeckers and apple trees all have their part to play in the drama of life in this forest. The book is written in an easy, flowing style and accompanied by lovely line drawings and attractive colour plates of some sketches.
Heinrich is also critical of human effort
Staff Favorites
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
From the DNA contained in an apple seed to the great towering branches far beyond a young boy's reach, Heinrich explores a natural world in scientific and personal terms.

A scientist whose words speak with the power and grace of a poet, Heinrich uses this gift and his knowledge of his 300 acres of Main forest to expose the forest's rhythms. In doing so, he illustrates the vital but tenuous link amoung men, trees, birds, insects and all the creatures of the forest.

This author is famous for his i
May 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Bernd Heinrich proves himself, per usual, an equally affectionate and erudite steward of both his forest and the teachings of biology and natural history. The best praise I can offer is that this book has changed my perspective on the trees around me, birthing a renewed awe and fascination with the majesty and complexity of these organisms that can all too easily fade into the background. The best nature writing helps tune you in to aspects of the world around you that would otherwise go unnotic ...more
Feb 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I haven't read anything by this guy I haven't yet liked. I think Bernd Heinrich may be my hero! He has done everything that I have dreamed of doing at various points in my life but lacked the courage, motivation or talent to achieve. Biologist , naturalist, artist, world class runner, outdoorsman, pragmatist, dreamer, and writer. Yikes.

This book, as are his others, is like reading a cross between Thoreau and Darwin. A great summary of evolutionary ecology with touches or personal war
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Bernd Heinrich was born in Germany (April 19, 1940) and moved to Wilton, Maine as a child. He studied at the University of Maine and UCLA and is Professor Emeritus of Biology at the University of Vermont.

He is the author of many books including Winter World, Ravens in Winter, Mind of the Raven and Why We Run. Many of his books focus on the natural world just outside the cabin door.

Heinrich has w
“The very idea of "managing" a forest in the first place is oxymoronic, because a forest is an ecosystem that is by definition self-managing.” 26 likes
“Spraying to kill trees and and raspberry bushes after a clear-cut merely looks unaesthetic for a short time, but tree plantations are deliberate ecodeath. Yet, tree planting is often pictorially advertised on television and in national magazines by focusing on cupped caring hands around a seedling. But forests do not need this godlike interference... Planting tree plantations is permanent deforestation... The extensive planting of just one exotic species removes thousands of native species.” 8 likes
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