Trees and Shrubs Online Project


Many readers will have seen the reference on the IOS website to the publication online of the 8th edition of W.J. Bean’s Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles under the auspices of the International Dendrology Society (IDS), and many, particularly those who are members of the IDS, will be aware of the publication, with the cooperation of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, of New Trees, which, in effect, brought “Bean” up to date by covering trees introduced to cultivation after Bean’s publication in the 1970s.

I am delighted to report that the project has not stopped there, and, with the excellent John Grimshaw as editor-in-chief, the text of New Trees has now been fully integrated with Bean, and can now be found at:

The limitation of Bean for those of us who do not live in the UK is that it was rather too Anglocentric, as is of course made clear by the title. In New Trees John Grimshaw and Ross Bayton corresponded widely both within Europe and across the Atlantic, and largely overcame this flaw. Now, excitingly, the project moves into the phase of updating the original content of Bean to the same standard (to become what is jokingly referred to as "Broad Bean"). A mere moment’s consideration brings one to the realization of what an immense project this is (the 8th edition was published in four fat volumes plus an additional appendix), and indeed John, whilst remaining editor-in-chief, will not undertake it on his own. Experts on the various larger genera will be commissioned to write the text, which will first be professionally proofread and then copyedited to maintain a common and consistent standard. There are not many people in the world able to write the section on Quercus, and even fewer both able and willing. Thus we are more than fortunate that former IOS President Allen Coombes has agreed to take on the task for what promises to be the ultimate online oak guide. As many will know, Allen is now based in Mexico, the evolutionary epicenter of the genus, which will be an enormous additional benefit to the breadth of his treatment.

Although the result will be free to the online end user, needless to say a project of this scope comes at a price: in addition to author’s fees there will be proofreading and copyediting costs, followed by the cost of putting the information online and subsequent ongoing maintenance. For Quercus, which is one of the largest hardy tree genera, the proportional cost is estimated to be around £30,000, of which the IDS has already contributed £10,000, and private donors £3,000. So the halfway point has almost been reached, and thus a start has already been made. But this is where you come in. Any contribution towards the goal of the ultimate free Quercus resource would be welcome in order to reach the final total, whether you are a private donor or part of an institution with an oak bias. And although I write of Quercus, there is an immense list of genera ranging from Abelia to Ziziphus for which sponsorship is sought, should you have another pet genus! So, if you would like to contribute (and I hope you will!), please contact John Grimshaw directly via: