The Tree Collectors

The Tree Collectors

Tales of Arboreal Obsession
Random House
2024

From the New York Times Bestselling Author

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Fifty vignettes of remarkable people whose lives have been transformed by their obsessive passion for trees—written and charmingly illustrated by the New York Times bestselling author of The Drunken Botanist

When Amy Stewart discovered a community of tree collectors, she expected to meet horticultural fanatics driven to plant every species of oak or maple. But she also discovered that the urge to collect trees springs from something deeper and more profound: a longing for community, a vision for the future, or a path to healing and reconciliation.

In this slyly humorous, informative, often poignant volume, Stewart brings us captivating stories of people who spend their lives in pursuit of rare and wonderful trees and are transformed in the process. Vivian Keh has forged a connection to her Korean elders through her persimmon orchard. The former poet laureate W. S. Merwin planted a tree almost every day for more than three decades, until he had turned a barren estate into a palm sanctuary. And Joe Hamilton cultivates pines on land passed down to him by his once-enslaved great-grandfather, building a legacy for the future.

Stewart populates this lively compendium with her own hand-drawn watercolor portraits of these extraordinary people and their trees, interspersed with side trips to investigate famous tree collections, arboreal glossaries, and even tips for “unauthorized” forestry. This book is a stunning tribute to a devoted group of nature lovers making their lives—and the world—more beautiful, one tree at a time.

The Tree Collectors is available everywhere books are sold.

News & Accolades

  • UK & Australian edition from Text Publishing.
  • Translations in Chinese (Taiwan) and others to come

The Reviews are In!

"In turns funny and poignant, The Tree Collectors is an empathetic look at the world of people who spend their lives in pursuit of priceless trees. Amy Stewart’s characteristic wit is on full display as she speaks with tree collectors from around the world. Such conversations reveal more than the ins and outs of an uncommon hobby, however; they show that the desire to collect trees stems from a desire to connect with others and envision a future in which trees and humans alike can thrive on a healed planet. Adding to the book’s charm are Stewart’s own watercolors of the people she meets along the way."
LitHub
“I love everything Amy Stewart has ever created, but this book is my favorite yet. I’m giving this book to everyone I know. Because it, like its subject, is a gift.”
— Elizabeth Gilbert
“These mesmerizing trees, and the inspiring people they’ve transformed, will alter your perspective and give you hope.”
— Peter Wohlleben, author of The Hidden Life of Trees
“What a gift! The Tree Collectors takes us on a whirlwind planetary journey into the wondrously entangled life of people and plants. With this book, Amy Stewart shows us how we are all related to one another, through trees.”
— Katie Holten, author of The Language of Trees
“Blue gum eucalyptus, oaks, maples, ginkgoes, boxwoods, cottonwoods, dogwoods, mangos, flowering cherries . . . With graceful prose and tender watercolors, Amy Stewart’s arboreal global tour explores the fragility and resilience of Earth’s great canopy. The Tree Collectors ushers readers into the hidden groves and lush forests where the world’s most dedicated gardeners plant the landscape of the future.”
— Lauren Redniss, author of Oak Flat
“Like the brushstrokes in the fine paintings alongside them, Stewart’s vignettes add up to something more: a powerful portrait of the human passion for plants and a paean to what the plants give back.”
— Thor Hanson, author of The Triumph of Seeds
“Amy Stewart brings us inside the hidden world of tree collecting in this delightfully offbeat book about a group of otherwise normal people as diverse as the specimens they collect. The Tree Collectors will take root in your consciousness and nurture your soul.”
— William Alexander, author of Ten Tomatoes that Changed the World
“Reading The Tree Collectors feels like sitting down and having the best kind of coffee date with one fascinating person after another. No matter your arboreal experience or expertise, you will learn something, while feeling uplifted by Stewart’s own thoughtful and bright botanical illustrations.”
— Kathryn Aalto, author of Writing Wild
“Literary pointillism . . . a warm and brilliant mural of life that tells a larger story about humanity: our desires, our losses, our salvation, and our place on a beautiful living planet during a time of immense challenges.”
— Greg King, author of The Ghost Forest
"Beautiful, quirky and inspirational. A journey through the trees of the world and the remarkable people tending the forests and gardens of our future."
— Inga Simpson, author of Understory: A Life with Trees
"A beautiful mix of love letters to trees and practical tree facts. Amy Stewart is as curious about people as she is about trees."
— Sophie Cunningham, author of City of Trees