An Orchard Invisible: A Natural History of Seeds

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9780226757742: An Orchard Invisible: A Natural History of Seeds
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The story of seeds, in a nutshell, is a tale of evolution. With "An Orchard Invisible", Jonathan Silvertown presents the oft-ignored seed with the natural history it deserves, one nearly as varied and surprising as the earth's flora itself. In a clear and engaging style, he delves into the science of seeds: How and why do some lie dormant for years on end? How did seeds evolve? The wide variety of uses that humans have developed for seeds of all sorts also receives a fascinating look, studded with examples, including foods, oils, perfumes, and pharmaceuticals. An able guide with an eye for the unusual, Silver-town is happy to take readers on unexpected - but always interesting - tangents, from Lyme disease to human color vision to the Salem witch trials. But he never lets us forget that the driving force behind the story of seeds - its theme, even - is evolution, with its irrepressible habit of stumbling upon new solutions to the challenges of life.

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Review:

"Seeds--familiar, mysterious, wonderful, endlessly fascinating, but rarely considered carefully. In this beautifully written popular exposition, Jonathan Silvertown brings seeds to life, illuminating their diversity, their amazing properties, their role in nature, evolution and fate over time, germination and fate in the life of an individual. To be read by all those interested in nature: they will gain deeper understanding from the lively words that trace these and many other aspects of these familiar structures."--Peter H. Raven, director, Missouri Botanical Garden

"I loved this little book. . . . "An Orchard Invisible" practically spills over with interesting insights. A chapter on the evolutionary rationale for fruit becomes a meditation on color perception. In one paragraph Silvertown will tell you about how plant poisons affect different populations of people, and in the next you're learning that Pythagoras didn't eat beans. A discussion of seed dispersal begins with a note about paper airplane design. His chapters on beer and coffee are particularly enthralling."--"Boston Globe"--Anthony Doerr "Boston Globe "

"In a nutshell, I will never look at seeds the same way again, whether teeny poppy seeds or mammoth coconuts. . . . [A] delicious little book."--Leigh Dayton "Australian "

"An enthralling study of the ways seeds survive in the terrestrial world, and also sustain us humans. . . . [The] book will clearly remind its audience of a more vibrant, more sentient world than they might have imagined just outside their door."--Alan Moores "Seattle Times "

Seeds familiar, mysterious, wonderful, endlessly fascinating, but rarely considered carefully. In this beautifully written popular exposition, Jonathan Silvertown brings seeds to life, illuminating their diversity, their amazing properties, their role in nature, evolution and fate over time, germination and fate in the life of an individual.To be read by all those interested in nature: they will gain deeper understanding from the lively words that trace these and many other aspects of these familiar structures. --Peter H. Raven, director, Missouri Botanical Garden"

An oak yields millions of acorns through its life, yet one survivor alone secures its line: natural selectionacts most stringently on a seed. Here the author of Demons in Eden, with apt and at times hilarious quotation, explores how humanity has ingeniously exploited the extraordinary and complex devices by which plants, through their seeds, have surmounted competition. Beneath, we observe the relentless yet haphazard tide which is evolution. --Peter Ashton, Harvard University"

"Now is the season to plant a garden. And there's no better companion for your labors than Jonathan Silvertown's thorough yet eminently readable history of seeds, An Orchard Invisible. . . . A veritable wonder-chamber."--Phoebe Connelly "Barnes and Noble Review "

"An oak yields millions of acorns through its life, yet one survivor alone secures its line: natural selection acts most stringently on a seed. Here the author of Demons in Eden, with apt and at times hilarious quotation, explores how humanity has ingeniously exploited the extraordinary and complex devices by which plants, through their seeds, have surmounted competition. Beneath, we observe the relentless yet haphazard tide which is evolution."--Peter Ashton, Harvard University

"Seeds may look small and boring, yet tricks, bribes and devious deceptions lie at the heart of their evolution, as ecologist Jonathan Silvertown entertainingly recounts in this fascinating celebration of the green world upon which all human life depends."--New Scientist "Best Books of 2009 "

About the Author:

Jonathan Silvertown is professor of ecology at the Open University, Milton Keynes, and is the author of Demons in Eden and editor of Fragile Web.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780226757735: An Orchard Invisible: A Natural History of Seeds

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ISBN 10:  0226757730 ISBN 13:  9780226757735
Publisher: University of Chicago Press, 2009
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