26 Sept 2015: Heritage Trees of Penang (reprint 2015)

htrees-1This is a superb piece of work…the pages successfully combine stunning photographs and vivid botanical illustrations with just the right amount of text. It will appeal to the informed layperson as well as professionals working with plants.
-S.K. Ganesan, National Parks Board, Singapore

Tree lovers rejoice! The recently reprinted edition ofHeritage Trees of Penang* is now available. Since its launch in 2011, the book has been regarded as a definitive guide to some of Penang’s most remarkable trees, and a timely reminder that trees are not only part of our landscape, they are also a vital component of our cultural, historical and natural heritage as well as an integral part of our everyday lives. Heritage Trees was born out of a passion for trees in all their shapes and sizes, eccentricities, irregularities and hidden surprises—from the majestic ones found in temples to those growing out of deserted buildings and often worshipped with makeshift shrines, as well as the magnificent avenues of angsana and rain trees in George Town and those growing in the kampungsof the west coast.

The original plan was to write a field guide to wild forest trees in order to document the rich diversity of the natural heritage of Penang; after discussion with friends and colleagues, the authors decided to also include the plants in the Penang Botanic Gardens, highlighting the marvellous array of both wild and exotic plants which are found there, including many species which are rarely seen elsewhere. ln the end, it was decided to produce a book which would combine all these diverse strands into a single web, highlighting the importance of each element whilst at the same time celebrating the vital role which trees play in the many aspects of Penang’s unique heritage.

htrees-2Some 200 species of trees are featured in this book, spread over a thousand photographs and 72 original watercolours.  The chapters are neatly divided into six sections: Street Trees, Garden Trees,Sacred Trees, Village Trees, Forest Trees, and Coastal & Riverside Trees. Species are listed alphabetically by their scientific names (binomial nomenclature) followed by their local or ‘common’ names. The unique value of each tree is explored in terms of its contribution to the distinctive character of George Town and Penang, as well as its spiritual or symbolic significance and its role in traditional lifestyles for food, medicine or other uses.

It is hoped that this book will encourage and inspire generations of readers to contribute to the conservation of trees in George Town and surrounding areas. It should also serve as an educational tool for managers of protected areas, environmentalists, forest rangers, travellers, tour guides and educators.

About the authors: Simon Gardner is a full-time researcher, photographer and writer, focusing on botanical and environmental issues. Pindar Sidisunthorn, trained as an architect and ecologist, is also a professional botanical illustrator and writer. Lai Ee May, a graduate in plant biotechnology and chemical analysis, has been a biology lecturer in Penang for many years.

*National Book Council of Malaysia (MBKM) 50 Best Malaysian Titles 2011 selectee