The Songs of Trees: headed to press!

I’m thrilled to announce that my next book, The Songs of Trees, is scheduled for publication on April 4th, 2017. After several years of traveling and writing, the proofs are in and the book is moving into production. 


The cover art features a photograph of young, pink leaves of Lecythis pisonis, “Monkey Pot Tree,” in Yasuní Biosphere Reserve, Ecuador, the location of my opening chapter. (Pete Oxford / Minden Pictures / Getty Images.)

As publication date approaches I’ll share more stories from my journeys, including some photos and audio clips from the trees whose lives I studied. For now I’ll say that my method at each tree was simple: I sat, listened to each tree and its many neighbors, and tried to attend to the many songs wrapped into and around each tree. What is a tree song? The many harmonies, discords, and relationships — ecological, cultural, physiological, evolutionary — that give a tree its life. Through these masters of connection, we learn something of the networks that give life its substance and beauty.

The following overview from my publisher, Viking, gives a taste of the places that I visited and the songs that I heard:

The author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Forest Unseen visits with nature’s most magnificent networkers — trees 

David Haskell’s award-winning The Forest Unseen won acclaim for eloquent writing and deep engagement with the natural world. Now, Haskell brings his powers of observation to the biological networks that surround all species, including humans.

Haskell repeatedly visits a dozen trees around the world, exploring the trees’ connections with webs of fungi, bacterial communities, cooperative and destructive animals, and other plants. An Amazonian ceibo tree reveals the rich ecological turmoil of the tropical forest, along with threats from expanding oil fields. Thousands of miles away, the roots of a balsam fir in Canada survive in poor soil only with the help of fungal partners. These links are nearly two billion years old: the fir’s roots cling to rocks containing fossils of the first networked cells.

By unearthing charcoal left by Ice Age humans and petrified redwoods in the Rocky Mountains, Haskell shows how the Earth’s climate has emerged from exchanges among trees, soil communities, and the atmosphere. Now humans have transformed these networks, powering our societies with wood, tending some forests, but destroying others. Haskell also attends to trees in places where humans seem to have subdued “nature” – a pear tree on a Manhattan sidewalk, an olive tree in Jerusalem, a Japanese bonsai– demonstrating that wildness permeates every location.

Every living being is not only sustained by biological connections, but is made from these relationships. Haskell shows that this networked view of life enriches our understanding of biology, human nature, and ethics. When we listen to trees, nature’s great connectors, we learn how to inhabit the relationships that give life its source, substance, and beauty.”

Publication date is six months away, but pre-orders are already open:


Barnes and Noble




It is a joy and a great honor to share what I hear and learn, both in book form and here on my blog. To all who accompany me in my rambles by reading, sharing, commenting: many, many thanks.

53 thoughts on “The Songs of Trees: headed to press!

  1. Ralph

    This is exciting news! Second only to the environment being the #1 issue in the upcoming election. (Thought I’d put it out there anyway) I know I speak for many when I say it is also a joy and great honor for us to be on the receiving end of your sharing and learned insights. Thanks YOU David!

  2. Tom Howick

    Super news! I forwarded this onto the last 4 years of Master Naturalist classes to let them know…
    Look forward to reading your new book. Congrats David!

  3. Barbara C. Sproul

    Dear David George Haskell:

    How EXCITING!!! I just pre-ordered your book on Amazon and will figure how to use some of it in my course on Eco-spirituality in the Spring… (The students already read The Forest Unseen)… I just finished Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees which has some interesting facts in it but is oddly chatty and presumptuous in places and not anywhere nearly as useful for my purposes; he goes ‘wide’, while you go ‘deep’ (if that make sense).

    In any case, congratulations to you and felicitations to all of us who are lucky enough to get another of your books!

    Barbara Sproul

    Prof. Barbara C. Sproul

    Director, Program in Religion

    Hunter College, CUNY

  4. Dave Mills

    David, you were very kind to autograph a copy of “The Forest Unseen” to my (then) three-year old grandson Henry. When I receive my copy of “The Song of Trees,” can I send it to you for another autograph? Henry’s five now. Here’s hoping he turns out just half as smart as you. Cheers.

  5. Mary Alice Mastrovito


    I am eagerly awaiting this new book. Thank you so much for your work, your insight, and the elegant way you combine head and heart. Many blessings and much success!

    Mary Alice

    Mary Alice Mastrovito, president 440 465 7860

    “He who plants a tree plants a hope.” ~Lucy Larcom


  6. BeeHappee

    So exciting!!! Very much looking forward to get my library order a copy. Thank you for this work and research, I learn from the blogposts too and then can pass it to kids.
    We spent part of summer in Latvia, where in the old tradition trees are very much appreciated for their distinct personalities, people still use variety of twigs in sauna for a variety of healing purposes, and there are strong beliefs and practices that involve trees sharing various energies with humans.
    Thank you for this work.

  7. Julie-Anne Fountain

    Hi David,
    Congratulations on finishing the book. It sounds like you’ve been on a wonderful journey and the concept of a ‘tree song’ sounds fascinating. I must admit that I get excited about the future direction of this kind of research; rooted in science but bordering on spiritualism and flights of the imagination. I also echo praise for the cover—beautiful choice.
    Thanks for your efforts and for the pre-order link (on my way there now).

  8. Giorgiana

    What exciting, much anticipated news! I love being among trees and love to learn and read about them. I look forward to reading your next book!!!
    Thank you for sharing your insights, knowledge and love of the natural world!

  9. Paul Martin

    Congratulations, Dr Haskell. I.greatly look forward to reading “The Songs of Trees” in 2017.

    I am reading “The Forest Unseen” right now – indeed, I have just looked up from page 136 (to be precise), the last page of the chapter where you describe the utterly distinctive reproduction methods of fungi.

    I never knew, until 5 minutes ago, that fungi are unique in not reproducing by the exchange of sperm and eggs, and instead combine filaments to propagate themselves, thereby completely usurping the male/female binary distinction that we assume is ubiquitous in living organisms.

    This passage is just one example of the fascinating and deftly-expressed descriptions and reflections on the complex interplay of living things that I have enjoyed in “The Forest Unseen”. I certainly will read “The Songs of Trees” with similar keenness, and I will spread the news of both of your books as well as I can. Thank you.

      1. Paul Martin

        Yes – they are entering my consciousness, certainly! I had always tacitly assumed (wrongly, it turns out) that fungi were similar to plants in their life cycle, including in their reproductive methods. To know that this earth is inhabited by organisms that fall outside the binary reproductive methods is extraordinary. Thank you. And best wishes for “The Songs of Trees”!

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  15. Ken Chawkin

    I heard your interview on the CBC’s As It Happens and found this blog entry. This looks like a wonderful book on trees! It’s nice to see more books being written on this subject. I remember reading Secrets from the Lives of Trees by Jeffrey Goelitz and was surprised to learn about all the special things they do for the planet. Years later I wrote this poem about them. What Do Trees Do?

  16. Pingback: Meet the biologist who says trees have their own songs | 2012 The Awakening

  17. pekkanikolaus

    Very interesting – ordered the book today.

    The CBC article about your book features some recordings of tree sounds. Do more of these exist somewhere?

  18. Carolyn Culpepper

    Did you receive my Email sent to you when you were in Australia? The memories that the
    “Golden Rain Tree” brought back to all the children after reading my Email to you made a huge
    flood of Emails from all my brothers & sisters. They are all on the lookout for your book as I am. Thanks for the memories!

  19. Pingback: The Songs of Trees: Stories From Nature's Great Connectors - Ecologise

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