Long recognised as a classic of it’s kind, Modern Arboriculture has been required reading for many arborists over the last 30 years and is still seen as an important source book. The book was somewhat radical when it first appeared, both in terms of the concepts it put forward such as CODIT (Compartmentalisation Of Decay In Trees), the unusual presentational style, and the fact that almost every page of text is illustrated with a sketch or diagram to put across the point being discussed. Later, authors such as Mattheck developed this method further.
In Shigo’s own words, Modern Arboriculture is about “new and better ways to help trees stay healthy, safe and attractive”. Providing information on “the tree system – how it grows, how it defends itself, and how it eventually dies as well common tree treatments”. The book also covers more niche topics including symplast, tyloses, reaction wood, protection wood, genetics of CODIT, infection pathways, canker rots, wound reactions, energy flow, ATP, glycolysis, enzymes, mass-energy ratio, three-tree concept, core-skin hypothesis, mycorrhizae and phenological patterns. The form of the book is a succession of numbered topics, with explanations and illustrative diagrams.