Photo of Bluebell Woods in Sussex Photo of Bluebell Woods in Sussex

How to Read a Tree

Tristan Gooley





Do two trees ever appear identical? No, but why? Every small difference is a clue.

Each tree we meet is filled with signs that reveal secrets about the life of that tree and the landscape we stand in. The clues are easy to spot when you know what to look for, but remain invisible to most people.

In How to Read a Tree, you’ll discover the simple principles that explain the shapes and patterns you can see in trees and what they mean. And you’ll learn rare skills that can be applied every time you pass a tree, whether you are in a town or a wilder spot.

As the author of the international bestsellers The Walker’s Guide and How to Read Water, Tristan Gooley knows how to uncover the phenomena worth looking for. He has been instructing people in the art of reading trees for two decades and this book includes signs that will not be found in any other book in the world.

Once you have learned to see these things it is impossible to unsee them. We will never look at a tree the same way again.

This fascinating read reveals the clues and secret language of nature. You’ll never see a tree in the same way after reading this book.

Backwoodsman Magazine

‘An important book and a pleasure to read.’

Raynor Winnauthor of The Salt Path

‘You will never look at a tree in the same way again after reading this mesmerising book.

Gooley drops learning as lighty as blossom falls in spring.’

John Lewis-Stempel, author of The Wood

“Deeply fascinating and exquisitely written.”


Tristan Gooley has done trees the greatest service.

Isabella Tree

We live by a wood, so I thought I knew all about trees. Tristan Gooley’s How to Read a Tree: Clues & Patterns from Roots to Leaves taught me otherwise and most engagingly.

Allan Mallinson, Country Life

“Reams of appealing facts make one itch to get outside and right up close to trees’ rough surfaces and shady cover.”

The Atlantic

‘It was a lightbulb moment! I thought I knew my local woods – I walk there almost every day. But it’s a thrill to see it through fresh eyes, to develop a much deeper understanding.’

Peter Gibbs, Chair BBC Gardeners’ Question Time

“How To Read A Tree is so packed with information that it’s a book best dipped into rather than read in one go… Your country walks will never be quite the same again.”

The Daily Mail

‘Wherever you are – city or wilderness – if you want to understand the secrets of trees you pass, this is the book to read… Tristan has the rare gift of explaining the most complex ideas with humour and deep insight.’ 

Peter Thomas, Emeritus Reader in Plant Ecology at Keele University, author of Trees

‘Trees can reveal fascinating secrets about the landscape and environment, and this book will add a new dimension to your next countryside stroll.’

Wanderlust Magazine

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How to Read a Tree - North American Cover
North American Cover

For details on how to order in North America, please see this page.

To view a full Index of the book, please see this page.