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.
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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