An Interactive Guide to Learning 50 Redwood Community Plants through Hand Tinting
Text and Photography by David Casterson
This innovative guide is actually a fieldbook—literally a book to use out in the field, or in this case, on any hike in the redwoods. Biologist Casterson presents fifty redwood community plants commonly found in the redwood’s natural range. Plants are arranged from the earliest bloomers to the latest, putting redwoods themselves first since they bloom November to January.
The page of text for each plant describes some of their distinguishing characteristics and other fascinating botanical facts about it. The opposite page has a grey toned photo of that plant’s foliage and flower. While the book is extremely interesting itself, the author has a higher purpose in mind: to get people to go out into the redwood forest and observe each plant closely, ideally tinting the grey toned images with colored pencils. One need not be an artist to color these images. Rather, the goal is to heighten each forest visitor’s powers of observation and understanding, allowing us to connect with each of the plants on several levels.
It’s a book for students, kids, nature lovers, grandparents, photographers, and art and life science teachers, and anyone who loves the redwood forest. It encourages users to find their inner botanist and artist to discover and connect with the redwood community. Some of the plants included: sword, woodwardia, horsetail, polypody, goldenback, bracken, and five finger ferns, California bay, madrone, big leaf maple, Douglas fir, tan oak, trillium, iris, red clintonia, wood rose, hazel, sweet grass, redwood violet and sorrel, cow parsnip. columbine, trail plant, mugwort, and wild ginger. Those are only half of the fascinating plants this book helps readers connect with.
Casterson’s fieldbook is well organized, full of fascinating and often little known facts—did you know bay trees are related to cinnamon and avocado? — and rich with excellent, clear and representative photos. It makes learning fun and interactive. In addition, the supporting website provides even more information and gorgeous full-color photos of what each of the plants look like.