Trees have for long been celebrated in song and poetry, and on postage stamps. This is understandable, for they have a place of importance in our lives. Beautiful to look at in all their various forms, they also play useful roles. They give us shade and provide us shelter. They cool the air before it enters our houses. They provide food in the form of fruits. They provide medicinal substances. They purify the air we breathe.
In a country as rich in trees as Malaysia is, Malaysian Trees in Colour will be most welcome, as it will increase our awareness of trees and of their roles in our lives. Written by two well-qualified authorities, it portrays, describes, and discusses more than a hundred species of trees in this country, divided into the following categories: fruit trees, forest and plantation trees, palms and bamboos, and shrubs. For each species, the local name, common name, botanical name, and family name are given; an index of common and botanical names is provided for easy and quick reference.
The authors have also included a chapter on trees in general, discussing in detail their structure, their leaves, their flowers, and their bark. To the general reader, this is an eye-opener, for it reveals a number of little-known facts. The bark, for example, may seem an uninteresting part of the tree, yet it comes in a wide variety of textures, forms and colours, making it suitable for, decorative purposes.
Malaysian Trees in Colour is useful to home gardeners and nurserymen, for it includes a chapter which gives guidance on propagation, planting, and maintenance. For urban and regional planners, landscape designers and those involved in beautification programmes, useful advice is given on the planning of planting schemes, including a discussion about problems such as selecting species, deciding on the right mix of leaf size and leaf colour, and choosing leaf shapes and flowers and fruits.
This is a timely book, as it appears at a time when our rain forests are threatened with destruction. By increasing our interest in trees, it will go a long way towards helping us preserve what we can of our rich heritage of trees. lt will help create and maintain more attractive surroundings for our housing estates and major development schemes so that we may be able to live in a more pleasant environment.