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Trees, Shrubs & Lianas of Nantucket , Volume One



Rare and forgotten post oaks, sassafras clones outlawed by the federal government, tupelo “islands” that may have lived in the same spot for over 1,000 years, and four-dimensional prismatic berries visible only to birds and red-haired women, all this and more is covered in this comprehensive guide to the trees, shrubs, and woody vines (lianas) of Nantucket by naturalist Yeshe Palmo. 


Some of the species are rare elsewhere, but plentiful on Nantucket. Others that are common on-island grow in ways unseen on the mainland. Ever wonder why the trees of Nantucket grow so twisty? Why there is so much scrub oak? And why the island is home to the unique? 


Eight years in the making, with over 1200 photographs by the author, over eighty chapters describe the struggles and the stories of the native and alien woody plants that reside in a harsh maritime environment. Discover the challenges, the successes, and the failures. Follow harrowing tales of survival during the years lived from young seedling to ancient growth. Learn of adaptations and symbiotic partnerships, and ecological bonds between soil, climate, humans, animals, and plants.


 Follow the seasonal cycle of each species: from spring blossom and leaf emergence; to pollination and seed-set; to winter sleep. Each chapter covers in detail the flower, fruit, seed, leaf, bud, and bark (young, mature, and old-growth) of each species as aids to identification, so that you can recognize the plants during your own walks in the field at any time of the year. Also covered are folklore, history, old names, and medicinal and edible uses, both contemporary and historic. Instructions on where to find each species in its island home habitat accompany each chapter. And, since many of these species occur also on Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod, and throughout the east coast, this book is useful beyond Nantucket Island alone.


Over the last decade, as I have been living and working on Nantucket, it has been an adventure to learn about the island’s unique species composition, and in particular, the amazing adaptability of our trees to frequent high winds and salt spray. Some of my most interesting nature walks have been with Yeshe Palmo, including visits to Nantucket’s oldest forest trees—the first to re-grow following agricultural abandonment in the mid-1800s. —Kelly Omand, Ecologist/Field Supervisor, Nantucket Conservation Foundation Science and Stewardship Department 


Lama Yeshe Palmo is a naturalist, teacher of Tibetan Buddhism, and published author of books on natural history, ecology, and folklore. Originally from the Hudson Valley in New York State, she moved to Nantucket in 2011, where she lives with her cat and dog.