In the Company of Redwoods (2014) is an interactive guide to learning 50 Redwood community plants.
As the reader adds color to its exquisitely detailed black and white photographs, their eyes move back and forth between the plants they see and the text and images of this unique book, enabling them to quickly learn the names, facts and faces of the Redwood forest plant community.
For this fieldbook, I selected fifty intriguing plants that can be found in most of Coastal Redwood’s 450 mile range. The earliest of these begin blooming in November, the latest in June.
For each plant, there is a page of identification and reproductive information, followed by a botanical plate page where the images have been lightened and desaturated to make them easy to hand tint. Hand tinting was first used in the era before color photography to give life to black and white pictures. As you can see in the picture, hand tinting allows the details of texture to show through. In the process, the beauty and depth of each plant is revealed.
After David Casterson retired from teaching high school biology for 34 years, he finally had the time to assemble this field guide to the plants that inhabit the Santa Cruz (and surrounding areas') redwoods forests. This book was a labor of love, and Casterson had clearly poured himself into the effort.
The guide describes how a remarkable number of plants have edible berries and leaves, and that many are readily used for making teas year round (madrone, vanilla grass (in small doses), douglass fir, etc.). There's even a recipe for preparing a tan oak tree acorn meal. Trying a few of these out, as well as tracking down each of the described plants are now bucket list items for me. I'm fortunate, in that getting to the Santa Cruz redwoods is a mere 1.5 hour drive, and many a spontaneous vacation day has been spent this way.