the xylothek


Alnarp, Sweden is the home of a unique Wooden Library.*

The wooden library, or xylothek (from the Greek words for tree, xylon, and storing place, theke) consists of 217 volumes describing 213 different species or varieties of trees and shrubs.

A xylothek is generally speaking a collection of simple pieces of wood specimens placed together in some kind of cupboard. In a refined form it is in the shape of “books” where you can find details from the tree inside, everything arranged as a “library”. This latter form flourished in Germany around 1790-1810. Four different manufacturers existed and three of them offered their products for sale. The Alnarp collection is an example of that.

Each “book” describes a certain tree species and is made out of the actual wood (the “covers”). The spine is covered by the bark, where mosses and lichens from the same tree are arranged. “Books” of shrubs are covered with mosses with split branches on both covers and spines.

Read more about these exquisite works, and their history and how they came to be in Alnarp, Sweden.

View the gorgeous photos by Mikael Risedal – be sure to click on each to view much larger.*


(Thanks to wood s lot for this stunning find a while ago. I’m late posting this.)

* March 28, 2014 – link updated as site has changed; photos no longer enlarge.

November 21, 2006 in Books, Culture by Marja-Leena