Climbing fig trees to heaven on earth

In a gripping 224 pages of eloquent writing, Mike Shanahan’s first book, ‘Ladders to Heaven: How fig trees shaped our history, fed our imaginations and can enrich our future’, brings us the fascinating story of fig trees. From the age of dinosaurs, to pre-history and the age of exploration, and into the present times, the reader learns how these trees shaped the planet and fascinated philosophers, conquerors and commoners alike.

Fig trees were here when dinosaurs first roamed the planet. And today, just as they did 80 million years ago, Ficus species continue to bring nourishment, shade, water and numerous other gifts to people and plants. What’s more, these trees may help us claw our way out of the ecological conundrums we currently find ourselves in—deforestation, species loss, and even climate change.

Fig trees were the subjects of research for scientists like Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace and E. J. H. Corner. More recently, their biology has been studied by researchers such as ICRAF ecologist Rhett Harrison, naturalist and wildlife photographer Tim Laman, Ian Thornton, and the author himself.

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Purchase Ladders to Heaven by Mike Shanahan.

The book will be republished in North America as Gods, Wasps and Stranglers, in November 2016.

Visit Mike Shanahan’s blog, Under the Banyan

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