Pollen: The Hidden Sexuality of Flowers / Edition 3

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Overview

"The most ravishing biology lessons we've ever seen."— Chicago Tribune

The publication of the first edition of Pollen broke new ground by melding art and science in a beautiful yet authoritative examination of the design and function of pollen. This new edition contains 20 additional, equally spectacular, photographs published here for the first time. The book also contains a fully updated chapter about the Millennium Seed Bank Project and its recent acquisitions.

Special light and scanning electron microscopy were used to obtain astonishing microphotographic images of pollen grains. These images are accompanied by exquisite photographs of the parent plants. Concise text describes the role of pollen in the reproduction of a variety of plants, ranging from tulips and lilies to orchids and palms. Literary references and early botanical illustrations round out the text.

The first edition of Pollen received rave reviews for its original approach and stunning presentation. Now, with new pictures and updated text, it will maintain its place as one of the most remarkable publications on the topic.

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Editorial Reviews

The Midwest Book Review - Diane C. Donovan
[Review of earlier edition:] A gorgeous display of full-page close-up images and facts: perfect for the general interest collection.
Melville Newsday - Jessica Damiano
[Review of earlier edition:] A fascinating scientific journey through the evolutionary world.
Bloomsbury Review - Kim Long
[Review of earlier edition:] Magnetic... much in the way of information as well: basic descriptions of plant cycles, the history of botanical science, functions of seeds and pollen, and, also enhancing the artistic angle, the history of illustration of the subjects. Large, glossy, elegant, and a treat.
January Magazine - Linda L. Richards
[Review of earlier edition:] Astonishing, possibly even groundbreaking... beautiful almost beyond description. You've never seen botanical photography quite like this.
Bookwatch
[review for first edition] Pollen: The Hidden Sexuality of Flowers represents a collaborative effort between an artist and a scientist who use an electron microscope to reveal the intricate structures and diversity of pollen. The sequence of events from pollination to fertilization and ways in which pollen affects daily lives is revealed in a gorgeous display of full-page close up images and facts: perfect for the general-interest collection.
Science Books and Films - Michael A. Campbell
[Review of earlier edition:] This is a beautiful book. From cover to cover, it contains some of the most spectacular images of pollen available in press... page after page of high-quality photographs, illustrations, and electron micrographs that demonstrate flower and pollen morphology in glorious detail and diversity. Embedded within the artwork is text that is clear... contains sufficient detail and background to educate and inform the reader on a large range of pollen-specific subjects.
Chicago Tribune - Beth Botts
[Review of earlier edition:] [reviewed with Seeds] These are the most ravishing biology lessons we've ever seen, with spectacular photos that will make you rethink your plants and text that makes [the books] worth keeping.... An enlightening gift or a personal indulgence.
Globe and Mail
[Review of earlier edition:] [Globe and Mail 2006 Holiday Gift Book selection] Beautifully produced ... This intriguing book is both informative and beautiful.
Allergic Living
[Review of earlier edition:] To the allergic, pollen never looked so good.
Columbus Dispatch - Mark Ellis
[Review of earlier edition:] [reviewing Pollen and Seeds] Pollen never looked so pretty, so otherworldly... The books are full of interesting nuggets, too.
American Association of Stratigraphic Palynologist - Alwaynne B. Beaudoin
[Review of earlier edition:] What images they are! Vibrant, detailed, highly colored, and, generally, crisply captured.... accompanied by stunning close-up photographs of flowers... succinct but well-written ... a fine introduction to pollen and its study.... I have spent many hours entranced and absorbed in the pictures. These pollen images are both startling and truly fascinating and revelatory... an excellent addition to the small library of pollen textbooks as well as a superb addition to the larger library of botanical and scientific art books.
Booklist - Carol Haggas
[Review of earlier edition:] Visual artist Kesseler unveils the delicate artistry and vibrant wizardry of these horticultural workhorses in an incandescent blend of exacting science and extraordinary art... Hartley writes of the evolution and diversity of pollen and the process of pollination with both the precision of an academic text and the poetry of a heartfelt homage.
Globe and Mail - Carolyn Leitch
[Review of earlier edition:] Images so astonishingly vivid that they verge on the bizarre... People with a fuzzy knowledge of pollen will likely be surprised at just how sexy the topic can be.
Discover - Anne Wootton
[Review of earlier edition:] [Pollen] comes in thousands of varieties, many quite fantastic looking... These mere specks, many only 50 microns across, are gargantuan on the ultravivid pages of [this book].
Cleveland Plain Dealer - Suzanne Hively
[Review of earlier edition:] The facts are fascinating, and dynamic art will ensure that you never look at a plant in the same way again.
Natural History - Laurence A. Marschall
[Review of earlier edition:] One can almost feel the sensuality in a close-up of lily anthers, languishing under the weight of their thick coating of fertile powder... If plants could read, they might be appalled to see their sex lives explored so up close and personal, but we human beings can only marvel and delight.
National Post - Liz Primeau
[Review of earlier edition:] [reviewed with Seeds] These books ... will be appreciated by gardeners and nature lovers who also dig art. They're both gorgeous and educational ... Kesseler's microphotography is fabulous ... It's fascinating to be reminded that plants reproduce sexually in much the same way humans do, except plants perfected the skill millennia before we did.
Victoria Times Colonist - Barbara Julian
[Review of earlier edition:] Bright color and deep magnification show us the stunning range of shapes and detail hidden in the microworld.
Minneapolis Star Tribune - Jarrett Smith
[Review of earlier edition:] [reviewed with Seeds] Science joins hands with art. ... wallops you with closeups of flowers' "birds and bees" bits and then pairs them with electron microscopy images of the same plant's pollen grains. The effect is stunning. ...will, of course, be of interest to the gardener, but more important, the dazzling images will inspire the artist.
London Free Press - Ken Smith
[Review of earlier edition:] The most beautiful microscopic structures in nature... each grain of pollen appears a tiny, fantastic world... This detailed study of flower anatomy reveals unimaginable diversity.
Ottawa Citizen - James MacGowan
[Review of earlier edition:] A tiny, fantastic world.
Kitchener-Waterloo Record - David Hobson
[Review of earlier edition:] Filled with stunning photographs created with electron microscopy.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554075591
  • Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 9/17/2009
  • Edition description: Second edition
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 12.40 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Rob Kesseler is a visual arts professor and artist. Since 2001 he has been working with microscopic plant material at London's Royal Botanic Gardens.

Madeline Harley, PhD, FLS, is head of the palynology unit at the Royal Botanic Gardens. She is recognized internationally for her work in the study of pollen characteristics.

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Table of Contents

Foreword 10
The art and science of pollen 16
No pollen - no flowers; no flowers - no pollen 18
Picturing the invisible 146
Pixillated pollen 178
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Preface

The Art and Science of Pollen by Rob Kesseler and Madeline Harley

This book is the result of the shared fascination of an artist and a scientist with the perfect design of organisms too small to be seen without a microscope — pollen grains, which are enclosed beyond the accessible beauty of the flower until the moment of release, when they will be carried by wind, water or animal vectors to achieve their purpose, procreation. Pollen is ubiquitous; in childhood we all learn a little of plant reproduction and the role of the bee but few people are aware of the astonishing diversity of the structure of pollen grains, although these tiny and extraordinary diversity of the structure of pollen grains, although these tiny and extraordinary forms have fascinated the scientifically curious since the seventeenth century.

Throughout history there have been polymath geniuses whose passion for understanding enabled them to traverse many disciplines, Leonardo da Vinci being the exemplar. In the seventeenth century came Robert Hooke, chemist, physicist and surveyor of the City of London, whose pioneering development of the compound microscope was to have such an impact on the scientific world. Printed in 1665, his seminal book Micrographia was a landmark in popular science publishing. Not only did Hooke describe in an accessible language his microscopic observations of anything from woven strands of silk to a flea but also he illustrated each specimen with graphic precision, giving the subjects an 'other worldly' appearance. We have become so used to the legacy of richly illustrated books which it engendered, that it is hard to imagine the sensation that Micrographia caused when it was first published. It pre-dated by almost a century the proliferation of popular illustrated books generated to satisfy the growing fascination across Europe for collecting and displaying 'nature's ornaments', with titles such as Spectakulum Naturae & Artium, 1765, and Amusemens Microscopiques, 1776. The relationship between art and science has ebbed and flowed since Hooke's time, Goethe, who would send himself to sleep at night by visualizing the developmental cycle of plants, had a less happy time. He was surprised and dismayed to find that his essay, On the Metamorphosis of Plants, although recognized thirty years later as a serious contribution to botany, was ignored at the time by botanists and public alike. He complained, "Nowhere would anyone grant that science and poetry can be united. People forget that science had developed from poetry and the failed to take into consideration that a swing of the pendulum might benificently (sic) reunite the two, at a higher level and to mutual advantage."

After a period of separation, the cultures of science and art are currently enjoying a collaborative renaissance. This book is a testament to this new spirit of co-operation. The sophistication and quality of the images produced scientifically is such that they have a clarity and detail that may call into question the need for any artistic intervention at all. However, this would be to ignore the role of the artist in interpreting and translating new scientific imagery, acting as the conduit through which the cultural consequences of scientific discovery are developed. Contemporary audiences of all ages are showing a growing appetite for images of the natural world that not only evoke a sense of awe through their sheer magnificence but also offer the opportunity to learn more about the workings of life.

It is with great pleasure that we are now able to share the fruits of our science-art collaboration.

Read More Show Less

Introduction

The Art and Science of Pollen

by Rob Kesseler and Madeline Harley

This book is the result of the shared fascination of an artist and a scientist with the perfect design of organisms too small to be seen without a microscope -- pollen grains, which are enclosed beyond the accessible beauty of the flower until the moment of release, when they will be carried by wind, water or animal vectors to achieve their purpose, procreation. Pollen is ubiquitous; in childhood we all learn a little of plant reproduction and the role of the bee but few people are aware of the astonishing diversity of the structure of pollen grains, although these tiny and extraordinary diversity of the structure of pollen grains, although these tiny and extraordinary forms have fascinated the scientifically curious since the seventeenth century.

Throughout history there have been polymath geniuses whose passion for understanding enabled them to traverse many disciplines, Leonardo da Vinci being the exemplar. In the seventeenth century came Robert Hooke, chemist, physicist and surveyor of the City of London, whose pioneering development of the compound microscope was to have such an impact on the scientific world. Printed in 1665, his seminal book Micrographia was a landmark in popular science publishing. Not only did Hooke describe in an accessible language his microscopic observations of anything from woven strands of silk to a flea but also he illustrated each specimen with graphic precision, giving the subjects an 'other worldly' appearance. We have become so used to the legacy of richly illustrated books which it engendered, that it is hard to imagine the sensation thatMicrographia caused when it was first published. It pre-dated by almost a century the proliferation of popular illustrated books generated to satisfy the growing fascination across Europe for collecting and displaying 'nature's ornaments', with titles such as Spectakulum Naturae & Artium, 1765, and Amusemens Microscopiques, 1776. The relationship between art and science has ebbed and flowed since Hooke's time, Goethe, who would send himself to sleep at night by visualizing the developmental cycle of plants, had a less happy time. He was surprised and dismayed to find that his essay, On the Metamorphosis of Plants, although recognized thirty years later as a serious contribution to botany, was ignored at the time by botanists and public alike. He complained, "Nowhere would anyone grant that science and poetry can be united. People forget that science had developed from poetry and the failed to take into consideration that a swing of the pendulum might benificently (sic) reunite the two, at a higher level and to mutual advantage."

After a period of separation, the cultures of science and art are currently enjoying a collaborative renaissance. This book is a testament to this new spirit of co-operation. The sophistication and quality of the images produced scientifically is such that they have a clarity and detail that may call into question the need for any artistic intervention at all. However, this would be to ignore the role of the artist in interpreting and translating new scientific imagery, acting as the conduit through which the cultural consequences of scientific discovery are developed. Contemporary audiences of all ages are showing a growing appetite for images of the natural world that not only evoke a sense of awe through their sheer magnificence but also offer the opportunity to learn more about the workings of life.

It is with great pleasure that we are now able to share the fruits of our science-art collaboration.

Read More Show Less

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