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An Orchard Invisible: A Natural History of Seeds
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An Orchard Invisible: A Natural History of Seeds

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  62 ratings  ·  12 reviews

The story of seeds, in a nutshell, is a tale of evolution. From the tiny sesame that we sprinkle on our bagels to the forty-five-pound double coconut borne by the coco de mer tree, seeds are a perpetual reminder of the complexity and diversity of life on earth. With An Orchard Invisible, Jonathan Silvertown presents the oft-ignored seed with the natural history it deserve

Hardcover, 224 pages
Published April 15th 2009 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 2009)
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I was kind of hoping for more botany and less natural history, but truth in advertising prevailed: the book claimed to be a natural history and it was. I learned some interesting facts, but there was also a lot of fluff, as you'd expect for a natural history written for a popular audience. Overall too much cutesiness.
Interessante e bene scritto.
Un viaggio affascinamente tra storia culturare (ad esempio l'introduzione in Europa del caffe) e biologia, con un rigoroso approccio evoluzionistico, alla scoperta dei semi e di come questi siano parte integrante della nostra vita.
Despite my deep love for natural history as a genre, I found myself perplexed that he was able to take such an exciting topic and make it drab. It was a bit too...professor-y, and not random enough. By that I mean that he seemed focused solely on his research of seeds, and didn't tangent toward all the other things involved. On the bright side, this made it a short read.
The best compliment is that I read it to a group of 11 year old girls as a bed time story thinking it would put them to sleep,
I'm surprised at the good reviews this book got in the press. It's a good coffee table book I guess, and one can gather all sort of little titbits. But if you're looking to really understand how plants/seeds work and their evolution, the book is a cumbersome read and it often confuses more than it illuminates. It often mentions biological/physiological terms and processes which are never explained (or sometimes explained much later), and often presupposes more knowledge than most books on evolut ...more
Victoria Haf
Este libro es el "free book of the month" de la Universidad de Chicago ( y habla sobre las semillas, tiene bastantes curiosidades como por ejemplo por qué la semilla del café es cafeinada, cuales son los diferentes mecanismos de dispersión y sus ventajas, la semilla más grande del mundo, las semillas prehistóricas… es sencillo, corto y entretenido, sobre todo si tienes interés en las plantas.
Apr 12, 2014 Magister marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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The second book I've read by Silvertown. They were both quirky, but wonderful.
Like the best natural histories, both informative to the general public and interesting to the trained scientist. A fun read. I wasn't crazy about the quirky chapter transitions (last sentence of one chapter becomes title of next in most cases), since it seemed forced.
A pleasant potpourri of seed information. The tone might be a bit too cute for some readers, but I definitely learned a lot of interesting facts.
Light but quality pop-science on seeds, plant sex, and plant's evolutionary relationships with pollinators, parasites, and people. Via UChicago's free monthly ebook program.
Kathy Kroeger
This is a great introduction book to seeds, especially if you like light playful writing. Silvertown incorporates more anecdotes than scientific facts, but he ensures that the facts he does include are memorable and worthwhile. I recommend reading this as a companion to a real botany book if you're looking to learn a lot.
didn't like (hated) the writing style, didn't go in depth enough for my taste either. not recommended if you already know how natural selection and domestication works, cos he'll just KEEP GOING ON ABOUT IT, IN A HORRIBLE STYLE
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Jonathan was born and raised in London and his schoolboy nature watching was done while taking furtive short-cuts on cross-country runs across Hampstead Heath. He made much faster progress when running back from Hampstead’s bookshops in time to beat the end of lunch hour bell. His first scientific paper was submitted with an epigraph by Walter de la Mare which the editor removed with a snide comme ...more
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