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College of Science and Mathematics

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Cal Poly Biology Professor Writes a Guide to California Trees

March 9, 2011

San Luis Obispo Tree Talk, Book Signing Set for April 7

Professor Matt RitterSAN LUIS OBISPO -- Cal Poly Biology Professor Matt Ritter has written a nationally recognized book about trees in California. "A Californian's Guide to the Trees Among Us" is a natural history and identification guide to native and cultivated urban and suburban trees, with beautiful photos, all new identification keys, and foreword written by Dr. Peter Raven, President Emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Ritter will give a presentation on the book in San Luis Obispo Thursday, April 7 at 12:30 p.m. at the San Luis Obispo City County Library, 995 Palm. St. He will also sign copies of the book. At 2:00 p.m., San Luis Obispo City Arborist Ron Combs will lead a walk and talk about the city's downtown trees. Both the book signing and tree walk are free and open to the public.

Ritter's book features more than 150 of California's most commonly grown trees. Whether native or cultivated, these are the trees that muffle noise, create wildlife habitats, mitigate pollution, conserve energy, and make urban living healthier and more peaceful. Ritter took all the photos and did the graphic design and layout for the book.

"Matt Ritter's fascination with trees shines through in this wonderful book. Accurate and thorough but also very readable and well-illustrated, this is an excellent identification guide and at the same time a celebration of the trees that grow in California's cities and towns. Anyone who is curious about trees is sure to find education and inspiration in these pages,” according to David Sibley, author of “The Sibley Guide to Trees” and “The Sibley Guide to Birds.”

Ritter studies cultivated trees and trees that escape cultivation. He holds a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from U.C. Santa Barbara and a doctorate in plant developmental biology from U.C. San Diego. He is currently a botany professor in the biological sciences department at Cal Poly and director of the university's plant conservatory.

He holds a Kenan Fellowship at the National Tropical Botanical Gardens, is the Ray Collett Visiting Scholar at the UC Santa Cruz arboretum, teaches for the Organization of Tropical Studies in Costa Rica, and is the chair of the City of San Luis Obispo Tree Committee.

He has authored numerous scientific papers about plants and contributed to botanical references including the upcoming second edition of the "Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California” and the “Flora of North America Project."

The book is published by Heyday and will be available for purchase on April 1. More information on the book can be found here.




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