An Orchard Invisible: A Natural History of Seeds by Jonathan Silvertown PDF

By Jonathan Silvertown

ISBN-10: 0226757803

ISBN-13: 9780226757803

The tale of seeds, in a nutshell, is a story of evolution. From the tiny sesame that we sprinkle on our bagels to the forty-five-pound double coconut borne by way of the coco de mer tree, seeds are a perpetual reminder of the complexity and variety of lifestyles on the earth. With An Orchard Invisible, Jonathan Silvertown provides the oft-ignored seed with the usual background it merits, one approximately as different and superb because the earth's vegetation itself.

Beginning with the evolution of the 1st seed plant from fernlike ancestors greater than 360 million years in the past, Silvertown incorporates his story via epochs and world wide. In a transparent and interesting sort, he delves into the technology of seeds: How and why do a little lie dormant for years on finish? How did seeds evolve? the big variety of makes use of that people have constructed for seeds of every type additionally gets a desirable glance, studded with examples, together with meals, oils, perfumes, and prescribed drugs. An capable advisor with a watch for the weird, Silvertown is excited to take readers on unexpected—but continually interesting—tangents, from Lyme affliction to human colour imaginative and prescient to the Salem witch trials. yet he by no means we could us fail to remember that the motive force at the back of the tale of seeds—its subject matter, even—is evolution, with its irrepressible behavior of stumbling upon new options to the demanding situations of life.

"I have nice religion in a seed," Thoreau wrote. "Convince me that you've a seed there, and i'm ready to anticipate wonders." Written with a scientist's wisdom and a gardener's pride, An Orchard Invisible bargains these wonders in a package deal that may be impossible to resist to technological know-how buffs and eco-friendly thumbs alike.

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Extra resources for An Orchard Invisible: A Natural History of Seeds

Sample text

However, in the unusual predicament that the Sahara cypress finds itself in, this is quite possible, perhaps even inevitable. The problem is caused by the fact that in androgenesis all descendants arise from pollen; although ovules are required for the formation of seeds, they do not propagate the genes of the tree that produces them. Even though conifers, like the majority of plants, are hermaphrodites and have both male and female organs, they do not self-pollinate. Thus, when androgenesis takes hold in a population, no tree can increase the number of offspring carrying its genes by producing female cones.

However, the picture changed completely when the seeds produced by the first cross were raised and fertilized with their own pollen. The seeds produced were now a mixture of round and wrinkled in a very particular ratio: three round to each wrinkled. What was extraordinary about these results was that a character, wrinkled seed shape, which disappeared from the progeny of the first cross had reappeared among the progeny of the subsequent one. This is rather like a magician’s trick in which objects are made to disappear, only to reappear again with the flourish of a silk handkerchief.

49 {5} According to Their Own Kinds INHERITANCE The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. GENESIS 1:12 Like begets like and thus differences between species are preserved, or so runs the biblical account. ” While the visitors no doubt prepared themselves for the embarrassment of meeting the numerous illegitimate offspring of a supposedly celibate priest, Mendel would lead them with a smile into a small walled garden.

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An Orchard Invisible: A Natural History of Seeds by Jonathan Silvertown

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