Among the Ancients: Adventures in the Eastern Old-Growth Forests

From the Publishers website: “Most residents of the eastern United States never get to see an old-growth forest. They think perhaps these forests are too far away, or they don’t know how to find them.

Joan Maloof’s Among the Ancients remedies this. In her intelligent, lyrical book, Maloof takes readers to twenty-six forests—one in each state east of the Mississippi River and all open to the public. She tells readers how to get there and what they will find when they arrive. On this journey—from giant hemlock groves in Pennsylvania to a lonely stand of pines in Wisconsin—readers come face to face, perhaps for the first time, with old growth: the forests with the largest trees and the richest diversity of life. They will camp with Maloof under “the Big Tree” in Alabama and paddle to the magnificent Patriarch in Delaware; they will dodge poisonwood sap in Florida’s Lignumvitae Key and tangle with a bat in the Michigan wilderness. They will also see the forests from the human perspective: who had the dream, who drew the line, who said “no” to the loggers. And they will learn about the vital link between old-growth forests and our own survival.

An immensely readable natural-history primer, Among the Ancients is also an adventure story and an impassioned plea to preserve and support the few untouched stretches of forest that remain.”

Teaching the Trees: Lessons from the Forest

From the Publishers website: “In this collection of natural-history essays, biologist Joan Maloof embarks on a series of lively, fact-filled expeditions into forests of the eastern United States. Through Maloof’s engaging, conversational style, each essay offers a lesson in stewardship as it explores the interwoven connections between a tree species and the animals and insects whose lives depend on it—and who, in turn, work to ensure the tree’s survival.

Never really at home in a laboratory, Maloof took to the woods early in her career. Her enthusiasm for firsthand observation in the wild spills over into her writing, whether the subject is the composition of forest air, the eagle’s preference for nesting in loblolly pines, the growth rings of the bald cypress, or the gray squirrel’s fondness for weevil-infested acorns. With a storyteller’s instinct for intriguing particulars, Maloof expands our notions about what a tree “is” through her many asides—about the six species of leafhoppers who eat only sycamore leaves or the midges who live inside holly berries and somehow prevent them from turning red.

As a scientist, Maloof accepts that trees have a spiritual dimension that cannot be quantified. As an unrepentant tree hugger, she finds support in the scientific case for biodiversity. As an activist, she can’t help but wonder how much time is left for our forests.”


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