California’s Trees Need to Stop Just Standing There

With Humans Unable to Solve the Golden State’s Forest Crisis, Our Woodsy Friends Must Step Up for Themselves

Dear California Trees,

When are you going to stand up and take some responsibility for all the damage you do to this state?

It’s not only the blue-purple blossoms that you jacarandas use to stain Californians’ cars, or the colonies of disease-carrying rats that you palms harbor, or even the roots you magnolias use to keep messing up the sidewalks on my street. It’s not even that your out-of-control-fires foul California’s air, destroy homes, and drain the state budget.

No, what most upsets me is that, instead of being accountable for the trouble …

The Puerto Rican Trees That Can Stand Up to Hurricanes

In El Yunque, the Tropical Rainforest Has Evolved to Shed Its Limbs to the Wind—But Stay Upright

El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico is one of the jewels of the United States system of national forests—and its only tropical rainforest. When talking about El Yunque, forest …

The 1938 Hurricane That Revived New England’s Fall Colors

An Epic Natural Disaster Restored the Forest of an Earlier America

This morning, while driving in central Vermont, listening to the latest news about hurricanes in Florida and Texas, I caught up with my first leaf peeper of the season. …

How We Discovered the Sierra Nevada Snowpack Is at a 500-Year Low

By Measuring the Widths of Centuries-Old Trees and Collecting Deadwood, My Team and I 'Read' the History of California's Climate

In 2005, I moved to the U.S. from Belgium to study the influence of climate on wildfires in the Sierra Nevada over the last five centuries. As part of this …

The Rise and Fall of the Gum Tree

How California Came to Love—and then Disown—Eucalyptus

Robinson Jeffers, a poet commemorated as an environmentalist, published a sonnet in 1916 that now seems eco-heretical. In 14 carefully rhymed lines, the laureate of Carmel offered praise to eucalyptus:

Thankful, …

Carving Out Roots

A Scholar Goes Back to the Family Farm

The Feminist Farmer is talking about brown rot. Blame the late July rain, she explains, tenderly holding a Le Grand nectarine as she considers the ugly, squishy spot on the …