Winter is the ideal time to recognize beauty in the outdoors, and certainly without leaves and flowers or fruits, it’s the ideal time to recognize a tree by its bark. Michael Wojtech’s book, BARK: A Field Guide to Trees of the Northeast (first published in 2011 and in reprint now, Brandeis University Press) is perhaps one of the best books to get your hands on for winter reading. This book includes over 450 photographs, illustrations and maps, to help you gain understanding and confidence, identifying trees year ‘round, but especially now, since there’s no distractions out there! Wojtech includes so much information about trees, their evolution and interesting historical facts, that it’s more than a “field guide” typically suggests. Bark appearance holds valuable information about a tree’s growth habit, ecological needs, and even care indicators are available when you take a close up look at tree bark.
The word “bark” comes from the 1300s, for tree skin, or hard covering of plants, in Scandanavian languages or German, “borkr” or “barkuz” which both are words for birch trees. Certainly, birch trees do have distinctive bark! Familiarity with trees and plants is helpful, and enjoyable as a mental exercise when you are relaxing in the world of plants. With a strong recommendation, this book offers so much history, botany, and identification facets, that it can be helpful year ‘round as well as an enjoyable winter read.