An Orchard Invisible: A Natural History of Seeds


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An Orchard Invisible: A Natural History of Seeds Author: Format: Paperback First Published: Published By: Chicago Press
string(3) "224"
Pages: 224 ISBN: 9780226757742 Category:

At the beginning of one chapter of this entertaining and charmingly illustrated book on seeds, there’s a sketch of two beans engaged in what, if they were human, might be called necking. Vegetables don’t really cuddle and coo, of course, but according to the author, when it comes to reproduction in the plant kingdom, practically anything else goes.

Silvertown’s short essays sample the broad panorama of strategies plants employ to spread their spawn around. In one chapter he describes winged and gossamer seeds, delicately structured because they have evolved to be spread by the wind. Gliders produced by a tropical vine named Alsomitra macrocarpa sport wingspans of nearly five inches, and if there’s a good breeze they can travel hundreds of yards in search of a good spot for germination. The course of true love, though, doesn’t always run smooth—seeds that travel too far run the risk of landing outside the hospitable environment of their parents and failing to thrive.

224 pages, paperback

Weight0.43 kg



"Anyone who has ever marveled at the idea of a tree exploding from something as tiny as a seed will exalt in the beauty of this book." - San Francisco Chronicle "I loved this little book.... An Orchard Invisible practically spills over with interesting insights." - Boston Globe "A subtle but engaging narrative of the evolutionary struggles of seeds.... Each of the first twelve chapters of this book tells a remarkable story, accompanied by well-chosen literary excerpts." - Times Literary Supplement "Silvertown is a witty botanist with a flair for seeds.... All botanists will enjoy this tribute to seeds." - Choice "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 "A fabulous book.... Silvertown's skills are in telling stories. Expect wonders, too.... In this book, Silvertown has produced a gem.... Read it as a gardener, scientist, food aficionado, historian, botanist, or naturalist, and you'll not be disappointed." - Times Higher Education"

Author Biography

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.