A modern reference to temperate woody plants, including updated content from this site and much new material, can be found at Trees and Shrubs Online.

Bean's Trees and Shrubs

The online edition of W. J. Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

The Book

For the past century W J Bean’s Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles has been the pre-eminent reference to woody plants hardy in Britain and Ireland, usually referred to by gardeners simply as ‘Bean’. First published in 1914, it was updated regularly until the Eighth Edition, brought out in four volumes during the 1970s. The text from this edition and its Supplement by Desmond Clarke (1988) is being made freely available here by the International Dendrology Society.

W J Bean

William Jackson Bean (1863–1947) spent his working life at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, as Head of the Arboretum and ultimately as Curator, during a period when Western gardens were greatly enriched by the discoveries of plant hunters working in China and elsewhere. He thus had first-hand experience of many of the plants he wrote about, often seeing them grow and flower in cultivation for the first time. Later editions of his great work were brought up to date by contemporary experts.


The International Dendrology Society is dedicated to promoting the knowledge of trees and shrubs and is pleased to be able to make this important work available online – enabled by the generosity of the publisher, Hachette UK (formerly John Murray), and the holders of the copyright in the text from the Bean and Clarke families. Another project, Trees and Shrubs Online, has started to update Bean's text and incorporate many new articles to create a truly modern reference to temperate trees and shrubs.