The Hidden Company That Trees Keep

Life from Treetops to Root Tips

James B. Nardi | 2023

A spectacularly illustrated journey into the intimate communities that native trees share with animals, insects, fungi, and microbes.

You can tell a lot about a tree from the company it keeps. James Nardi guides you through the innermost unseen world that trees share with a wondrous array of creatures. With their elaborate immune responses, trees recruit a host of allies as predators and parasites to defend against uninvited advances from organisms that chew on leaves, drain sap, and bore into wood.

Microbial life thrives in the hidden spaces of leaf scales, twigs, and bark, while birds, mammals, and insects benefit from the more visible resources trees provide. In return, animals help with pollination, seed dispersal, and recycling of nutrients. The Hidden Company That Trees Keep blends marvelous storytelling with beautiful illustrations and the latest science to reveal how the lives of trees are intertwined with those of their diverse companions.

  • Features a wealth of richly detailed drawings accompanied by breathtaking images of microscopic landscapes on leaf, bark, and root surfaces.
  • Includes informative fact boxes.
  • Draws on new discoveries in biology and natural history.
  • Written by one of the world’s leading naturalists.

Nardi: “No one expressed our disparate as well as shared heritage with these fellow
creatures in more lyrical and moving terms than the writer-naturalist Henry
Beston (1928):

In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.”


Nardi, J. (2023) The Hidden Company That Trees Keep: Life from Treetops to Root Tips. Princeton, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press.