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Trees in Paradise: The Botanical Conquest of California

Trees in Paradise: The Botanical Conquest of California

by Jared Farmer


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At the intersection of plants and politics, Trees in Paradise is an examination of ecological mythmaking and conquest. The first Americans who looked out over California saw arid grasslands and chaparral, and over the course of generations, they remade those landscapes according to the aesthetic values and economic interests of settlers, urban planners, and boosters. In the San Fernando Valley, entrepreneurs amassed fortunes from vast citrus groves; in the Bay Area, gum trees planted to beautify neighborhoods fed wildfires; and across the state, the palm came to stand for the ease and luxury of the rapidly expanding suburbs. Meanwhile, thousands of native redwoods and sequoias were logged to satisfy the insatiable urbanizing impulse. Revealing differing visions of what California should and could be, this natural and unnatural history unravels the network of forces that shape our most fundamental sense of place.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781597143929
Publisher: Heyday
Publication date: 03/01/2017
Pages: 592
Sales rank: 310,025
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.80(d)

About the Author

Jared Farmer is a professor of history at Stony Brook University who specializes in the environmental history of the American West. He is the author of two previous books: Glen Canyon Dammed: Inventing Lake Powell and the Canyon Country (University of Arizona Press, 1999) and On Zion's Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape (Harvard University Press, 2008). He is the winner of nine book prizes, numerous fellowships, and the Hiett Prize in the Humanities.

Table of Contents

Introduction xvii

Part 1 Redwoods: The Value of Longevity 1

Chapter 1 Twilight of the Giants

Debut of the Big Tree 7

American Remains 23

Land Going to Waste 31

Consuming the Redwoods 44

Chapter 2 The Perpetual Last Stand

Saving the Redwoods 60

Clean Logging 72

Park Politics 80

Old-Growth Crusade 90

Part 2 Eucalypts: The Taxonomy of Belonging 109

Chapter 3 Immigration and Naturalization

Acclimatizing with Blue Gum 115

New Varieties, New Authorities 130

Boom and Bust 138

Sense of Place 155

Chapter 4 Natives, Aliens, and (Bio)diversity

Putting Out Fires 168

Tree Hazards 179

California Native Plants 190

Invasion of the Nonnatives 202

Sense of Place, Again 213

Part 3 Citruses: The Industry of Growth 221

Chapter 5 Orange Revolution

Special Fruit 227

The Citrus Belt 239

Problems of Plenty 249

Tree Workers 257

Managerial Control 266

Chapter 6 Cultural Costs

Laboratories in the Grove 278

To Smudge or Not to Smudge 291

Subdivide and Uproot 307

Bugs in the System 321

Part 4 Palms: The Ecology of Style 333

Chapter 7 Cosmopolitan Fronds

Domestic Exotica 339

Street Trees and City Boosters 346

Flora of the Stars 367

Chapter 8 Aesthetic Infrastructure

Sunbelt Design 384

Wilted Crowns 398

The Plasticity of Trees 408

Beyond L.A. 417

Epilogue 431

Appendix: Common and Scientific Names of Species 439

Further Reading 445

Acknowledgments 455

Illustration Credits 459

Notes 461

Index 523

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