Fruit: Edible, Inedible, Incredible


A remarkable collaboration of nature, art and photography, celebrating the beauty of fruit.

The landmark books Seeds and Pollen were published in 2006 to rave reviews-with adjectives ranging from "breathtaking" to "spectacular," from "spellbinding" to "dazzling."

This companion title examines why fruits exist and how their short lives are critical to the natural order. Visual artist Rob Kesseler uses special light and scanning electron ...

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A remarkable collaboration of nature, art and photography, celebrating the beauty of fruit.

The landmark books Seeds and Pollen were published in 2006 to rave reviews-with adjectives ranging from "breathtaking" to "spectacular," from "spellbinding" to "dazzling."

This companion title examines why fruits exist and how their short lives are critical to the natural order. Visual artist Rob Kesseler uses special light and scanning electron microscopy to create astonishing images of a variety of fruits and the seeds they shelter. His razor-sharp cross-sections reveal intricate interiors and pods, pouches, keys, nuts and other examples of botanical architecture. Seed morphologist Wolfgang Stuppy deftly explains the formation, development and demise of fruit. Literary, historical and artistic references to fruit are included as well.

Fruit is groundbreaking in its intimate examination of plant reproduction. An essential source and reference for artists, designers and gardeners, this stunning book will fascinate any reader interested in the natural world and biological structures.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“…microscopic cross-sections focused on fruit, seeds and nature's seed dispersers from the toucan to the fruit bat. Exhaustive scientific text.”—Associated Press Books Review: Trees and Shrubs
Fruit is an amazing book. Suitable as a coffee table book, it is full of vibrant photographs and informative explanations on the nature of fruit. I simply love this book. I believe that Fruit: Edible, Inedible, Incredible by Wolfgang Stuppy & Rob Kesseler is now one of my favorite nonficfion books of all time. The highlight of this fascinating book [is] the photographs. Rob Kesseler used special lighting and scanning electronic microscopy to create the magic that populates the pages... I couldn't put the book down — I was fascinated by the vibrant images... I would give Fruit: Edible, Inedible, Incredible 10+ star if possible. The pictures are captivating and the text enlightening. This is now the prize book in my gardening collection. It should be in yours, too.
Making Scents
This work makes a great source and reference for artists, designers and gardeners.
SciTech Book News
This lusciously-illustrated volume...fruitfully combines full-page and other photographs of such exotic fruits as Buddha's hand, cashew apple, and Japanese wineberry with scientific names and explanations of the complexities of their classification, evolution, growth and reproductive habits.
Finger Lakes Times - Joel M. Lerner
Fruit is clearly an art book. The images are arresting and the stories fascinating.
Garden Design
Fruit: Edible, Inedible, Incredible is pure poetry.
January Magazine - David Middleton
The work is arresting, distinctive, familiar, yet it covers entirely new ground... Fruit is little short of astonishing. If the book never gets further than your coffee table, it's still likely to blow the stuffing out of anything else laid near it... Reading all of Fruit is like a fantastic mini education. Don't feel like reading? Just look at the pictures. They'll take you away.
The National Gardener National Garden Clubs
Bearer of seeds, fruits have an amazing variety of forms that are displayed in high definition images in this exquisite picture book. The striking graphic design of this publication is artwork of the highest quality; images appear to leap out from its shiny black pages... The highly informative narrative...examines the nature of fruits, their purpose, and an extensive collection of many distinctive structures that serve as a means for seed dispersal and ultimately plant survival. A helpful glossary assists the reader in understanding the particular vocabulary of this scientific discipline.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer - Chris Smith
Rob Kesseler's digital photographs are extraordinary. Every hair, scale and targeted structure is crystal clear... Simply as art, the book could stand alone. But the reader is in luck. Those marvelous photographs accompany a fascinating text.
The Daily News (Kamloops) - Judy Creighton
A mammoth undertaking...pictorially magnificent.
GardenWise - Joel Bentley
Stuppy divulges the copulating secrets of numerous fruits in a humourous, explicit fashion.
GardenWise - Wendy Thomson
Amazing images... Up close, many are unrecognizable, appearing to be futuristic landscapes or startlingly human-like sexual organs. Stuppy's thoroughly scientific examination of what makes a fruit a fruit is peppered with amusing observations.
Canadian Press
A fascinating look at a subject that has baffled botanists for years...The book is pictorially magnificent...Tiny interior structures of plants and seeds are blown up to fill the oversized pages, creating images that are sometimes surreal yet breathtakingly beautiful.
The Toronto Sun - Sonia Day
A swanky coffee table tome, packed with truly amazing photos....Kessler's pictures reveal just how precious—and extraordinary—our planet is.
Winnipeg Free Press - Linda Stilkowski
Fruit is just as visually luscious and insightful into the juicy secrets of some of our world's most delicious fruits.
American Reference Book Annual - Mary Ellen Snodgrass
Beautiful.... By examining fruit at this [microscopic] level users can gain a better understanding of plant reproduction and how it thrives in the natural world.
I Can
A remarkable collaboration of nature, art and photography, celebrating the beauty of fruit... Fruit is groundbreaking in its intimate examination of plant reproduction. An essential source and reference for artists, designers and gardeners, this stunning book will fascinate any reader interested in the natural world and biological structures.
Economic Botany, Vol. 64 - Kurt A. Reynertson
I recently had the pleasure of spending many long winter hours paging through this book. Randomly opening the book, I would be caught by one of Kessler's striking images, and settle in to read, quickly losing myself in Stuppy's writing... This wonderful, oversized book is the perfect gift for a botanist who appreciates artistic images of plants, or the photographer with a keen botanical enthusiasm. At first glance, it appears to be a typical coffee table photography book; on closer inspection, a botanist finds a compelling text with a refreshing degree of scientific rigor. The authors have intentionally used botanical terms, Latin names, and included taxonomic information that will please botanists who look for beautiful books with technical information... The images are beautiful, and illustrate the minutia that we rarely see with a hand lens or microscope.... Stuppy's text is engaging, and covers most everything you would want to know about fruits, from biology to natural history.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781608872817
  • Publisher: Insight Editions LLC
  • Publication date: 11/5/2013
  • Pages: 264
  • Sales rank: 277,281
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Wolfgang Stuppy is the seed morphologist for the Millennium Seed Bank Project at London's Royal Botanic Gardens.

Rob Kesseler is a visual arts professor and artist whose work has been shown in museums and galleries in the United Kingdom and Europe.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents





What is a fruit and what is a vegetable?

Angiosperms, Gymnosperms and those that copulate in secret

The naked-seeded ones

The non-naked-seeded ones

An abominable mystery

Angiosperm extremists

No Flower, no Fruit?

Is a pine cone a fruit?

No Carpel, no Fruit?

A shameless display

Not quite the ovary of Eve

Unwitting couriers

Wind, sex and gender separation

What's in a Fruit?

Babylonian confusion

Enhanced female performance

How to be a carpologist

The true meaning of fruits

Simple Fruits

The truth about berries

The miraculous miracle berry

Golden apples

Fragrant citrons

Buddha's hand

Sizeable pepos

Soft shell, hard core or how to be a drupe

Nuts about nuts

Walnuts or waldrupes?

Glans quercus

Two fruits in one - cashew nut and cashew apple

Wheat "grain" and sunflower "seed" - caryopsis and achene

Samaras - nuts gone airborne

Cypselas - achenes gone airborne

Pods and such like

Capsules or seven ways to open a fruit

Teeth, fissures, cracks and lids

Follicle and coccum

Pods as in "pea pods"

Sweet bean pods

The World's largest bean pod

Seeds in prison

Inside-out drupes

To be or not to be a drupe

Multiple Fruits - Several fruitlets from a single flower?

Schizocarpic Fruits or how to emulate the multiple experience

Anthocarpous Fruits - the carpologists' touchstone

Compound Fruits - A single fruit from several flowers?

The breadfruit and the Mutiny on the Bounty

The largest fruit a tree can bear

Figs, gnats and sycophants

Angiosperms with cones?

Carpological Troublemakers

Bogus fruits and how to debunk them

So what is a Fruit?

The biological function of fruits and seeds


Wind dispersal



Flying discs

Spinning cylinders


Woolly travellers

Love-in-a-puff and other balloon travellers


Water dispersal

Dispersal by raindrops

Plants that do it for themselves

Hygroscopic tension

Hydraulic pressure

Animal Dispersal

Becoming attached

The story of the sadistic Tribulus

In the claws of the devil

How to catch a bird

Dispersal by scatter-hoarders

Dispersal by ants

Combining Strategies

Directed Dispersal

Fleshy Fruits

The evolution of fleshy fruits

The good, the bad and the ugly, or why fruits are poisonous

Enough is as good as a feast

Young and dangerous

Climacteric fruits

One bad apple spoils the barrel

Dispersal syndromes, the sign-language of fruits

The bird-dispersal syndrome

How to catch the eye of a bird

Fleshy seeds

Flashy seeds

Dangerous beauty

Colourful appendages

Arillate seeds and the fate of New York

Dispersal by mammals

The bat dispersal syndrome

Monkey fruits - the primate-dispersal syndrome

Monkey apple

The Queen of Fruits

Cacao - food of the gods

The baobab

Durian - the King of Fruits

A big fruit needs a big mouth - the megafaunal dispersal syndrome

Africa's large mammals and their fruits

Sausages that grow on trees

Fruits that only elephants like

When the elephants are gone

The aardvark and its cucumber

Mallotus nudiflorus and the Indian rhinoceros

The nitre bush and emus

Galápagos tomatoes and giant tortoises

More inseparable couples

Till death do us part

The dodo and the tambalocoque - a textbook fairy tale

Anachronistic fruits

Size no longer matters

The largest fruit of America

Osage orange

How can it be true?

Where have all the mammoths gone?






Index of Plants illustrated


Picture Credits


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Professor Stephen D. Hopper FLS
Director, The Royal Botanic Gardens

Like most people, I must confess at the outset to being an incorrigible frugivore. I have enjoyed consuming fruit since my earliest memories, and do so to this day. It is an honour, consequently, to have been invited by the authors of this book to write a few words about their collaborative and brilliant merger of the science and art of fruit. This is the third such book in an award-winning series celebrating the diversity of plant reproductive structures. Its predecessors were Pollen - The Hidden Sexuality of Flowers, Rob Kessler and Madeline Harley, published in 2004, and Seeds - Time Capsules of Life by the present team, published in 2006. I cannot think of a more fitting contribution to the series.

Apart from their obvious nutritional value, fruits offer an enthralling assemblage of insights, inspiration and wonderment. Rob Kessler's imaginative images have captured such pleasures and made them available to a general readership. Complementarity is assured through Wolfgang Stuppy's lively text — authoritative but accessible. A powerful combination indeed.

We are told that there are more than 150 different technical fruit names coined by botanists over the past two centuries. This is heady stuff. Yet the book takes the reader along a path that unlocks the riches behind such dry nomenclature. I for one enjoyed reading every word, and learnt much more about fruits than I already knew. As the stories of evolution, biology and the use of fruits unfold, the book becomes a compelling read. There is a fertile field here from many points of view. I'm sure that no reader will regard a humble fruit in quite the same way once they have savoured what's in store herein.

This celebration of the beauty and intrinsic interest of fruits contains a significant and deeper message. Fruits are the containers of seeds, of new life on which all animals, including ourselves, are intimately dependent. Without fruits and their dispersal of seeds to safe sites, extinction, the death of birth, is inevitable. We cannot afford to let this happen, if for no other reason than self interest and our very survival. In a time when we travel down unprecedented pathways of climate change, caring for plants, the primary consumers of carbon, was never more important nor urgent. We must stop destroying plant life, and turn to ways that focus on nurturing and supporting green photosynthesizing organisms. We can only do so if plants continue to bear fruit, in all their amazing diversity. This book hopefully will encourage many to go beyond the aesthetic pleasure it so bountifully offers to helping plants and people survive into the future.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is proud to play its part in inspiring and delivering science-based plant conservation worldwide, enhancing the quality of life. Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, in particular, has engaged a hundred partner institutions in more than fifty countries in helping save plant life. Together, we all can contribute to such a pressing and important cause. It is a real pleasure to say that Kew remains a staunch partner in this publishing venture.

I congratulate the authors, publisher and all involved in this fine production.

Viva fruits — edible, inedible, incredible!

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