Michigan and the Great Lakes

Arboretum America

A Philosophy of the Forest
Diana Beresford-Kroeger
Foreword by Edward O. Wilson, Photographs by Christian H. Kroeger
A passionately intelligent, exquisitely illustrated guide to the native trees of the North American continent that offers an informative and entertaining blueprint for rebuilding the biosphere


Combining both hands-on practicality and garden philosophy, Diana Beresford-Kroeger, a self-described "renegade scientist," appeals to the hearts and minds of gardeners everywhere.

Arboretum America's goal is both lofty and down to earth: the salvation of the planet—through the planting of trees. There are many books on both of these subjects. Some warn, some inform, while others meditate on the disappearance of the forests or the meaning of trees. Few books, though, touch on so many aspects of trees, including ways to use them in garden design, as Arboretum America does.

Beresford-Kroeger's remedy is what she calls the Bioplan. The plan consists of how each of twenty different tree groups relates to its natural environment and how these specific trees can be used to promote health or to counteract the effects of pollution and global warming. The plan also reveals the fascinating history of these trees in Native American culture, including their medicinal uses. Finally, the Bioplan offers practical design ideas and tips—where to plant these trees, what season they look best in, what native plants complement them—as well as organic care and how to grow them.

Beresford-Kroeger captures the magic spell that trees cast over us. Yet her holistic approach urges us to think big while acting locally, so that we may someday restore the forest primeval.

Diana Beresford-Kroeger is a botanist, medical and agricultural researcher, lecturer, and self-defined "renegade scientist" in the fields of classical botany, medical biochemistry, organic chemistry, and nuclear chemistry. She lives in Ontario, Canada.

Praise / Awards

  • "For books on native trees, the best book around is Arboretum America. . . .The author provides intimate profiles of twenty different genera, and gives the ecological context regarding their evolution, distribution, and role in the ecosystem. She gives all the details one needs to grow the plants successfully, and propagate them from seed along with interesting information on their many practical uses."
    —Connie Crochmal, Suite101.com

  • ". . . offers an informative and entertaining blueprint for rebuilding the biosphere. Her remedy, what she calls the Bioplan, begins with a simple directive: know thy trees. Most important, the rebuilding must start, not with governments and sweeping legislation, but with 'ordinary people with an acorn and a shovel.'"
    Brockville Recorder & Times

  • ". . . a true handguide for the guerrilla gardener and weekend hobbyist alike. This book focuses on 20 native species that grow in our regional ecosystem. She paints a poetic masterpiece that blends scientific fact, folklore, planting guide an deep messages of worldwide gardening projects. . . . Beresford-Kroeger is a real 'renegade scientist'; she teaches, inspires and practises gardening of the future. Her forward thinking is simply essential; I know it and many of you know it too. Her words are great motivators. Arboretum America . . . is ideal for the novice gardener or the seasoned expert. It is great for the new garden and the established garden. For a treat during the season of giving, wrap up this little gem for yourself or a loved one. And if the words don't tickle your fancy the way they did mine, the outstanding photography will leave you drooling."
    —Penny Reed, Ottawa Citizen

  • ". . . a literary work with a life all its own, and without exaggeration, it is a masterpiece. Arboretum, according to my dictionary, means a plantation of trees. . . . Diana Beresford-Kroeger's personal definition must include: a place where trees heal the planet and all that reside there; a place of natural, peaceful and co-dependent existence between tree, human, creature and herb. . . . Far from being a simple narrative, the book discusses the incredible contribution each tree makes to the planet, where and how to plant them, and what environment they are most complementary to. . . . Wonderful photographs accompany the text showing the trees and various plants with their ecosystems."
    —Monika Carless, EcoFarm & Garden

  • ". . . a melding of philosophy, history, ecology, and practical garden advice."
    American Gardener

  • ". . . an especially recommended addition to Ecological Studies reference collections and Botanical Studies supplemental reading lists."
    Library Bookwatch: An Official Newsletter of The Midwest Book Review, November 2003

  • "In the tradition of naturalists such as Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold, Diana Beresford-Kroeger draws on a lifetime of personal experience to create intimate portraits of twenty major North American tree groups. Skillfully weaving together elements such as ecology, ethnobotany, horticulture, and ethnology, Beresford-Kroeger outlines the important role these trees have played in our cultural heritage and provides compelling evidence of their untapped ecological and pharmaceutical potential."
    —David J. Ellis, Editor, American Gardener magazine

  • "Beresford-Kroeger and I share a dream. We want people to see the forest and the trees, and the wildlife abounding in wild environments, in fine detail. We want native species to be valued and cultivated one by one for the special place they have in the deep history of the land. We want horticulturists to contribute more consciously and joyfully to the natural heritage they represent. Arboretum America speaks for the trees as well as it has ever been done."
    —From the foreword by Edward O. Wilson

  • "In prose as rich as the forest itself, Diane Beresford-Kroeger sees trees for all their attributes-as providers of clean air, clean water, food, shelter and beauty, and places them squarely at the center of a complex web of nature that is crucial to all species including man."
    —Roger C. Dower, President, Forest Stewardship Council U.S.

  • Winner: The National Arbor Day Foundation's 2005 Media Award

Look Inside


Introduction     1
Nomenclature     4

The Trees
Acer---Maple (Aceraceae)     7
Asimina triloba---Pawpaw (Annonaceae)     16
Betula---Birch (Betulaceae)     24
Catalpa---Catalpa, Indian Bean Tree (Bignoniaceae)     42
Crataegus---Hawthorn (Rosaceae)     50
Fraxinus---Ash (Oleaceae)     60
Gleditsia---Honey Locust (Leguminosae)     68
Juglans nigra---Black Walnut (Juglandaceae)     78
Magnolia acuminata---Cucumber Tree (Magnoliaceae)     88
Ostrya virginiana---Hop Hornbeam (Betulaceae)     96
Pinus---Pine (Pinaceae)     104
Ptelea trifoliata---Wafer Ash (Rutaceae)     114
Quercus---Oak (Fagaceae)     122
Sambucus---Elderberry (Caprifoliaceae)     132
Sassafras---Sassafras (Lauraceae)     140
Thuja occidentalis---Cedar (Cupressaceae)     148
Tilia---Basswood (Tiliaceae)     158
Tsuga---Hemlock (Pinaceae)     168
Ulmus---Elm (Ulmaceae)     176

References     187
Photography     189
Index     191

News, Reviews, Interviews

Read an article about the author in the New York Times

Read: Diana Beresford-Kroeger: Tree Walker UTNE Reader | 10/14/2011

Product Details

  • 11 x 8.5.
  • 214pp.
  • 145 color illustrations in text.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2003
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06851-7

Add to Cart
  • $35.00 U.S.