an orchard invisible a natural history of seeds

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Hybrid

Author : Noel Kingsbury
ISBN : 9780226437057
Genre : Science
File Size : 49. 93 MB
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Disheartened by the shrink-wrapped, Styrofoam-packed state of contemporary supermarket fruits and vegetables, many shoppers hark back to a more innocent time, to visions of succulent red tomatoes plucked straight from the vine, gleaming orange carrots pulled from loamy brown soil, swirling heads of green lettuce basking in the sun. With Hybrid, Noel Kingsbury reveals that even those imaginary perfect foods are themselves far from anything that could properly be called natural; rather, they represent the end of a millennia-long history of selective breeding and hybridization. Starting his story at the birth of agriculture, Kingsbury traces the history of human attempts to make plants more reliable, productive, and nutritious—a story that owes as much to accident and error as to innovation and experiment. Drawing on historical and scientific accounts, as well as a rich trove of anecdotes, Kingsbury shows how scientists, amateur breeders, and countless anonymous farmers and gardeners slowly caused the evolutionary pressures of nature to be supplanted by those of human needs—and thus led us from sparse wild grasses to succulent corn cobs, and from mealy, white wild carrots to the juicy vegetables we enjoy today. At the same time, Kingsbury reminds us that contemporary controversies over the Green Revolution and genetically modified crops are not new; plant breeding has always had a political dimension. A powerful reminder of the complicated and ever-evolving relationship between humans and the natural world, Hybrid will give readers a thoughtful new perspective on—and a renewed appreciation of—the cereal crops, vegetables, fruits, and flowers that are central to our way of life.

Seeing Seeds

Author : Teri Dunn Chace
ISBN : 9781604697131
Genre : Photography
File Size : 69. 36 MB
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“Llewellyn’s images reflect a depth of detail that until now, only the best botanical illustrators could approach.” —The Washington Post A centuries-old saying goes, “Great oaks from little acorns grow.” But as this dazzling book reveals, there is much more to a seed than the plant it will someday become: seeds, seedheads, pods, and fruits have their own astounding beauty that rivals, and sometimes even surpasses, the beauty of flowers. Bitter melon seeds resemble a handful of rubies. Poppy pods could be art nouveau salt shakers. And butterfly vine seeds look exactly like those delicate insects captured in mid-flight. Seeds also come with fascinating stories. Jewels of Opar got its name from a fabled city in Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan stories. Lotus seeds sent into orbit by Chinese scientists came back to earth mysteriously altered. And fava beans—beloved of foodies—have a Jekyll-and-Hyde personality: they can cause the debilitating condition known as favism in some individuals and at the same time combat the microorganism that causes malaria. In these stunning pages you’ll gain an understanding of how seeds are formed and dispersed, why they look the way they do, and how they fit into the environment. Seeing Seeds will take you to strange and wonderful places. When you return, it’s safe to say that you’ll never look at a seed the same way again.

The Triumph Of Seeds

Author : Thor Hanson
ISBN : 9780465048724
Genre : Nature
File Size : 32. 39 MB
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"The genius of Hanson's fascinating, inspiring, and entertaining book stems from the fact that it is not about how all kinds of things grow from seeds; it is about the seeds themselves." --Mark Kurlansky, New York Times Book Review We live in a world of seeds. From our morning toast to the cotton in our clothes, they are quite literally the stuff and staff of life: supporting diets, economies, and civilizations around the globe. Just as the search for nutmeg and pepper drove the Age of Discovery, coffee beans fueled the Enlightenment and cottonseed sparked the Industrial Revolution. Seeds are fundamental objects of beauty, evolutionary wonders, and simple fascinations. Yet, despite their importance, seeds are often seen as commonplace, their extraordinary natural and human histories overlooked. Thanks to this stunning new book, they can be overlooked no more. This is a book of knowledge, adventure, and wonder, spun by an award-winning writer with both the charm of a fireside story-teller and the hard-won expertise of a field biologist. A fascinating scientific adventure, it is essential reading for anyone who loves to see a plant grow.

Dinner With Darwin

Author : Jonathan Silvertown
ISBN : 9780226245393
Genre : Cooking
File Size : 20. 37 MB
Format : PDF
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What do eggs, flour, and milk have in common? They form the basis of crepes of course, but they also each have an evolutionary purpose. Eggs, seeds (from which flour is derived by grinding) and milk are each designed by evolution to nourish offspring. Everything we eat has an evolutionary history. Grocery shelves and restaurant menus are bounteous evidence of evolution at work, though the label on the poultry will not remind us of this with a Jurassic sell-by date, nor will the signs in the produce aisle betray the fact that corn has a 5,000 year history of artificial selection by pre-Colombian Americans. Any shopping list, each recipe, every menu and all ingredients can be used to create culinary and gastronomic magic, but can also each tell a story about natural selection, and its influence on our plates--and palates. Join in for multiple courses, for a tour of evolutionary gastronomy that helps us understand the shape of our diets, and the trajectories of the foods that have been central to them over centuries--from spirits to spices. This literary repast also looks at the science of our interaction with foods and cooking--the sights, the smells, the tastes. The menu has its eclectic components, just as any chef is entitled. But while it is not a comprehensive work which might risk gluttony, this is more than an amuse bouche, and will leave every reader hungry for more.

The Third Plate

Author : Dan Barber
ISBN : 9780143127154
Genre : Biography & Autobiography
File Size : 36. 23 MB
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"Barber explores the evolution of American food from the 'first plate,' or industrially-produced, meat-heavy dishes, to the 'second plate' of grass-fed meat and organic greens, and says that both of these approaches are ultimately neither sustainable nor healthy. Instead, Barber proposes Americans should move to the 'third plate,' a cuisine rooted in seasonal productivity, natural livestock rhythms, whole-grains, and small portions of free-range meat"--Provided by publishe

Encyclopedia Of Environmental Change

Author : John A Matthews
ISBN : 9781446264881
Genre : Nature
File Size : 36. 45 MB
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Accessibly written by a team of international authors, the Encyclopedia of Environmental Change provides a gateway to the complex facts, concepts, techniques, methodology and philosophy of environmental change. This three-volume set illustrates and examines topics within this dynamic and rapidly changing interdisciplinary field. The encyclopedia includes all of the following aspects of environmental change: Diverse evidence of environmental change, including climate change and changes on land and in the oceans Underlying natural and anthropogenic causes and mechanisms Wide-ranging local, regional and global impacts from the polar regions to the tropics Responses of geo-ecosystems and human-environmental systems in the face of past, present and future environmental change Approaches, methodologies and techniques used for reconstructing, dating, monitoring, modelling, projecting and predicting change Social, economic and political dimensions of environmental issues, environmental conservation and management and environmental policy Over 4,000 entries explore the following key themes and more: Conservation Demographic change Environmental management Environmental policy Environmental security Food security Glaciation Green Revolution Human impact on environment Industrialization Landuse change Military impacts on environment Mining and mining impacts Nuclear energy Pollution Renewable resources Solar energy Sustainability Tourism Trade Water resources Water security Wildlife conservation The comprehensive coverage of terminology includes layers of entries ranging from one-line definitions to short essays, making this an invaluable companion for any student of physical geography, environmental geography or environmental sciences.

Seeds

Author : Carolyn Fry
ISBN : 9780226224350
Genre : Gardening
File Size : 33. 86 MB
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Seeds provide half of the calories consumed by humans today and helped grow human civilization. Just ten crops (rice, maize, wheat, potatoes, etc.) provide 75% of human energy needs. "Seeds: A Natural History" unearths the evolution of seeds from the time before dinosaurs to how they became our primary source of calories and protein today. Using vivid photos of seeds, which invite readers to appreciate their diversity of form and function, along with a text by an award winning science journalist and writer, "Seeds "harvests the importance of the nature and productivity of seeds. And to complete the narrative arc, Seeds" shows how modern scientific techniques of genetic profiling, seed banking, and plant breeding may be the answer to humanity s future. Seeds and humans have had a bountiful history and this book captures the scientific, artistic, and economic vitality of these incredible natural packages."

The Long And The Short Of It

Author : Jonathan Silvertown
ISBN : 9780226072104
Genre : Science
File Size : 50. 97 MB
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Everything that lives will die. That’s the fundamental fact of life. But not everyone dies at the same age: people vary wildly in their patterns of aging and their life spans—and that variation is nothing compared to what’s found in other animal and plant species. A giant fungus found in Michigan has been alive since the Ice Age, while a dragonfly lives but four months, a mayfly half an hour. What accounts for these variations—and what can we learn from them that might help us understand, or better manage, our own aging? With The Long and the Short of It, biologist and writer Jonathan Silvertown offers readers a witty and fascinating tour through the scientific study of longevity and aging. Dividing his daunting subject by theme—death, life span, aging, heredity, evolution, and more—Silvertown draws on the latest scientific developments to paint a picture of what we know about how life span, senescence, and death vary within and across species. At every turn, he addresses fascinating questions that have far-reaching implications: What causes aging, and what determines the length of an individual life? What changes have caused the average human life span to increase so dramatically—fifteen minutes per hour—in the past two centuries? If evolution favors those who leave the most descendants, why haven’t we evolved to be immortal? The answers to these puzzles and more emerge from close examination of the whole natural history of life span and aging, from fruit flies, nematodes, redwoods, and much more. The Long and the Short of It pairs a perpetually fascinating topic with a wholly engaging writer, and the result is a supremely accessible book that will reward curious readers of all ages.

Seeds Sex And Civilization

Author : Peter Thompson
ISBN : 0500251703
Genre : History
File Size : 52. 23 MB
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Looks at the role played by seeds in human history, exploring what seeds do, how they work, and the future of genetically modified crops, seed conservation, and plant ownership in today's society.

Demons In Eden

Author : Jonathan Silvertown
ISBN : 9781459627383
Genre :
File Size : 84. 76 MB
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Jonathan Silvertown here explores the astonishing diversity of plant life in regions as spectacular as the verdant climes of Japan, the lush grounds of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, the shallow wetlands and teeming freshwaters of Florida, the tropical rainforests of southeast Mexico, and the Canary Islands archipelago, whose evolutionary novelties - and exotic plant life - have earned it the sobriquet ''the Gal pagos of botany.'' Along the way, Silvertown looks closely at the evolution of plant diversity in these locales and explains why such variety persists in light of ecological patterns and evolutionary processes. In novel and useful ways, he also investigates the current state of plant diversity on the planet to show the ever - challenging threats posed by invasive species and humans. This paperback edition will include an entirely new chapter on the astonishing diversity of plant life in the Western Cape of South Africa that focuses on fynbos, a vegetation endemic to the Cape. Bringing the secret life of plants into more colorful and vivid focus than ever before, Demons in Eden is an empathic and impassioned exploration of modern plant ecology that unlocks evolutionary mysteries of the natural world.

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