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Pollen: The Hidden Sexuality of Flowers [Hardcover]

Rob Kesseler , Madeline Harley
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

9 Nov 2004
Pollen grains have fascinated the scientifically curious since the seventeenth century. They are minute – almost impossible to visualise without a high-powered microscope. In life they remain enclosed beyond the accessible beauty of the flower until the moment of release, when, carried by wind, water or animal vectors, they achieve their purpose of procreation.

This beautifully produced and highly original book by an artist and botanical scientist at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, results from their shared fascination for the perfect designs of these microscopic organisms. Using light and scanning electron microscopy they have created a dazzling array of pollen grain images, combined with exquisite photographs of their parent plants. The accessible text provides a clear explanation of the structure and form of pollen and a detailed description of the remarkable events that occur from pollination to fertilisation.

A sumptuous and intriguing book that is informative and a visual delight.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Papadakis Publisher; First edition edition (9 Nov 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1901092445
  • ISBN-13: 978-1901092448
  • Product Dimensions: 28.9 x 31.5 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,411,945 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


An exploration into a mysterious, microscopic world. A visual feast! -- Country Life, January 13, 2005

Delightful! A lush world of colour and improbable shapes… the microscopic detail of the pollen is stunning. -- BBC Wildlife, March 2005

Remarkable! Lavishly illustrated with its blown-up images of pollen grains and their parent plants. -- Nature, December 2, 2004

Unforgettable! Prepare yourself for a feast… you will not be disappointed! -- Beekeepers Quarterly, Winter 2005

From the Inside Flap

A book that will delight, inspire and intrigue.
Professor Sir Peter Crane, Director, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vibrant visions of pollen 3 Jun 2007
This book has done much to banish my antipathy to pollen. Yes the fertile dust might make my life a misery for a few weeks each year - but it is just so beautiful. Kesseler and Harley, artist and scientist, have taken on a remarkable challenge. To present the intimate details of a plant's sex life in the context of the aesthetics of the containers of sperm.

The book opens with a gentle reminder of half forgotten biology lessons. The sex life of plants is taken far from the dry textbook and into a lush world of colour and improbably complex shapes. Images that have been mediated through computers from the electron microscope manage to take on the sensuality and eroticism of Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings. The anther of the Witch Hazel peers like the eye of a crab; cowslip presents a turtle-faced grain and the common daisy has pollen that could double as a space ship.

Perhaps the most delightful section of the book is the series of paired images of pollen and flowers - the microscopic detail of the pollen as stunning as the more accessible beauty of the plant itself.

Pollen is so small. It was only in the late seventeenth century that it was identified as the stuff of life. Madeline Harley, an internationally renowned expert on pollen, takes us through the history of discovery, right up to the developments in microscopy that have allowed the exquisite forms to be revealed.

While Harley's interest is understandable, artist Rob Kesseler's obsession is quite surprising. He has been collecting, preparing and studying plants and their pollen for years. He worked recently at Kew Gardens where he strung banners, featuring hugely magnified grains of pollen, among the trees.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book 10 July 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a beautiful book, delicate and impressive. Another one in Rob Kessler's series that are always worth looking at; informative and beautiful.
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4.0 out of 5 stars good purchase! 20 Dec 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Everything was fine! I received the book in time and in good condition! and it was easy to follow the post on line. The book has really nice pictures too.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pollen photos 9 Dec 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
You'll never look at plants in the same light again. Really shows you the wonders of the natural world, hidden away at near atomic level! (OK, not atomic, but it does feel like it).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Whats not to love 5 Dec 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
hidden from view until the microscope was discovered. It is as if someone hid the design until we were old enough to find it! Marvelous. Truly marvelous
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