Biology, Reviews

The story of seeds

As Chicago finally begins to see some springlike weather, the bits of color beginning to make their way back into the landscape serve as a reminder of the abundance of dormant life that’s been waiting patiently beneath the soot and the snow for the last six months. Thus, there is perhaps no other book on the press’s frontlist more apropos to the season than Jonathan Silvertown’s An Orchard Invisible: A Natural History of Seeds—a book that presents the oft-ignored seed with the natural history it deserves, one nearly as varied and surprising as the springtime flora itself. As a review in yesterday’s Seattle Times notes, the book approaches its subject from a variety of angles “among them sexuality, pollination, dispersal, germination, predators and diseases, and the use of seeds, in all their glory, in gastronomy” (see this an excerpt on barley seeds and beer brewing). But the author 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.
Written with a scientist’s knowledge and a gardener’s delight, An Orchard Invisible offers those wonders in a package that will be irresistible to science buffs and green thumbs alike.
To find out more about An Orchard Invisible and other books by Jonathan Silvertown navigate to the press’s website, or to see some of the author’s other projects, navigate to his website at