by Ronald M. Lanner
Whether you are a gardener, a hiker in the forest, an environmentalist or a botanist, you will find much to love about a new book from Cachuma Press, "Conifers of California" by Ronald M. Lanner.
Each species receives its own few pages, accompanied by exquisite photographs of the tree in its native habitat and detailed and beautiful watercolor illustrations by Eugene O. Murman of the cones, needles and seeds. Lanner writes clearly and
evocatively. One feels he is intimately acquainted with each species, and he draws the reader in with some great openings: "Imagine Thomas Coulter's self-satisfaction, perhaps bordering on gloating, as he stood on a steep, grassy slope in
the Santa Lucia range one fine day late in 1831." (Pinus coulteri) "A century ago Charles Sprague Sargent summarized the two basic requirements for healthy western hemlock: moist air and rotten wood." (Tsuga heterophylla)
We learn about cones, fire adaptability, wood, controversies of classification, stories of discovery and implications of names. For each species Lanner provides sections on identification (at a distance,
standing beneath it, and in the hand), habitat and distribution (including a distribution map). Knowing that Pseudotsuga macrocarpa (Bigcone-Spruce) is joined by canyon live oak nearly everywhere it grows might entice
you to plant one. Reading the chapter on Pinus radiata (Monterey Pine) might stimulate your thinking about the importance of genetic diversity. There is something to learn on every page. Appendices provide an extensive
bibliography, a key and a chart comparing needle and cone characteristics.