For the past fifty seven years I have relied on seeds for food and, throughout much of my horticultural career for earning a living. This new book has re excited my fascination for these wonderful living structures.
Thor Hanson tells the story of seeds based on historical facts and the latest scientific evidence from around the world. What makes this book so readable is that the author is eminently qualified to tell such stories; his CV must read like the adventures of an intrepid explorer, a scientific researcher and technician plus a distinguished lecturer and teacher. His anecdotes recall seed collecting trips to tropical rainforests and the world’s leading research institutions and Seed Banks with firsthand accounts of meeting with the key people heading up pioneering research and conservation of plant species.
This book contains many thought provoking topics relating to seeds through time, from how the mystery of seeds has fascinated people over thousands of years, from Aristotle’s botany student Theophrastus [the father of botany], to crop breeding in the industrial revolution and also the questions being asked by today’s scientists working on the genetic modification of plants for the future.
Thor Hanson has approached these issues in an informative, yet readable way; he has raised more questions while also highlighting the importance of current research and conservation of plant species around the world. Chapter seven is called ‘Take it to the Bank’, it recounts his talks with the staff working in the worlds seed banks, if anyone needs convincing of the importance, and vulnerability of these places then reading this chapter is essential .
Throughout this fascinating book the author reminds us of the history of seeds through time and how, through evolution the seed producing plants overtook the species propagated by spores such as mosses and ferns to eventually make up 90% of the worlds flora.
I recommend this highly readable book to everyone who has ever asked, or been asked a question about a seed. The comprehensive chapter notes and glossary enhance the academic status of this book considerably.
Title: The Triumph of Seeds
Author: Thor Hanson
ISBN: 2370 000 205377
Publisher: Basic books