In this compelling book, historian Jared Farmer weaves a captivating story of humans’ relationship with trees – particularly very old ones, known as elderflora. Farmer combines history, politics and science, travelling back in time and through many cultures and places to explore the ways in which our fascination and reverence for very old trees has morphed into exploitation and destruction. He takes us to England, Lebanon, Australia, and yes, to the kauri of Aotearoa, studying the tales of the world’s oldest trees through the stories and voices of religious figures, mythology, indigenous knowledge, and modern science.
Elderflora is a moving and timely account of our deep ties to nature, and of the ways in which humankinds desire to know, categorise and control it has caused some of our oldest treasures to reach untimely ends. If there is any argument for the importance of protecting our climate and giving care to young things so that they can grow old, this book is surely it. If you’ve read and loved ‘Finding the Mother Tree’ by Suzanne Simard, or find near magical fascination in the quiet of a forest, this book will astound and challenge you.
Many thanks to Scorpio Books for this review.