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The Bizarre and Incredible World of Plants Hardcover – September 17, 2009


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Fall Project Resources in Crafts, Hobbies & Home
Preserve fruits and vegetables, redecorate the home, or start a crafts project with help from books in the Fall Inspiration store.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Firefly Books (September 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1554075335
  • ISBN-13: 978-1554075331
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 10.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #831,321 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Nature’s default mode is beauty. Consider the tiniest grains of pollen, works of architecture so intricate and elegant as to defy belief. Humans have been able to appreciate such wonders only after inventing the electronic microscope, which has enabled scientists to fully study the elaborate and dynamic reproductive strategies of plants, but it takes an artist to fully appreciate their aesthetics. Enter Rob Kesseler, who transforms black-and-white informational images into photographs as resplendent as jewels. Palynologist Harley and seed morphologist Stuppy teamed up with Kesseler to produce three large, dazzling volumes—Pollen (2006), Seeds (2006), and Fruits (2008). The trio now presents a single, more compact and mobile, and equally gorgeous and mind-blowing volume about the marvelous yet secret lives of plants. The astonishing pictures are matched by scientifically exacting explanations of how plants, which produce oxygen and “feed—either directly or indirectly—all life on Earth,” have evolved “sophisticated survival strategies,” including symbiotic relationships with pollinators. The authors hope to inspire awe and gratitude, because, as they so graciously remind us, we owe our lives to plants. --Donna Seaman

Review

The Bizarre and Incredible World of Plants is actually the best of three other books, Pollen, Seeds and Fruit. All of them are pictorial wonders that use the best of science, art and technology to depict the anatomy of plants and their proficient reproduction. This lush and otherworldly picture book illustrates in the smallest detail the inscrutable work of plants making more plants, and fruits making more fruit, flowers making more flowers... This is truly a look into the secret life of plants. (Susan Reimer Baltimore Sun 2009-11-08)

The most visually striking--and unusual--plant-related book of the year comes from Firefly, which has a long history of visually stunning books to its claim. None of them are quite like The Bizarre and Incredible World of Plants, written by a team of authors with serious credentials in the world of plant morphology. Scanning electron microscopy results in remarkable, even otherworldly photographs of pollen, seeds, and fruit; the very reason life continues to exist on this planet. The accompanying text explains how these structures work, both in terms of their individual species and in the wider world. The only drawback is that readers have to flip to the back of the book to find out what images are on any given page, as thee are no corresponding captions accompanying the photos. That caveat aside, this is an affordable book that will forever change the way you look at plants. (Jodi De Long Halifax Chronicle-Herald 2009-12-06)

Ever wonder what the difference is between seeds, spores and pollen, or how plants have adapted to make themselves appealing to pollinators? You'll find the answers in The Bizarre and Incredible World of Plants. The colorful book provides insight into the lives of plants, as well as the insects and animals that play a part in their pollination. The illustrations of magnified seeds and pollen combined with otherworldly-seeming photographs of plants make this a visual treat. (Laura Gold Phoenix Home & Garden 2010-01-05)

The authors leverage the power of microscopes to enlarge tiny bits of plant material to fill entire pages in this photo anthology. Seen in a larger-than-life fashion, pollens and seeds become complete life forms with unique purposes. The photography and text convey a wealth of information about the organisms responsible for our plant world. (Joel M. Lerner Richmond Times-Dispatch 2009-12-25)

Surrounded by the striking microphotography of Rob Kessler, text by two experts from London's Royal Botanic Gardens describes the many purposes filled by pollen, seeds, and fruit, and the roles they play both in plant reproduction and in preserving the Earth's biodiversity. Accessibly written and filled with stunning photographs, this book will be enjoyed both by specialist and general readers. (SciTech Book News 2009-12-00)

Fantastic photos -- images that transcend the bounds of the ordinary -- dominate the book. Detailed information about each depicted plant or plant part is expertly included in "List of Illustrations," unobtrusively positioned at the back of the book. The running commentary offers technical insights... The authors of Bizarre and Incredible World of Plants rejoice in such "masterpieces of natural architecture and engineering," especially those invisible to the naked eye that have to be seen to be believed, or even imagined. Such detailed close-up features, brilliantly alight against glossy black backgrounds, amount to an unforgettable feast. (William Scheick, University of Texas at Austin Texas Gardener 2010-03-03)

Like fireworks in the night sky, startling images burst forth from the glossy black pages of this inquiry into the wonder of plant reproduction. The authors, recognized authorities in the field of botany and microscopic plant display, have produced a spectacular treatise, containing an examination of plant reproductive parts and the role they play in the life of plants and the entire planet. Authors Rob Kesseler and Madeline Hartley have created a text on a scientific subject that is easy to understand and fascinating. Through the use of special light and scanning electron microscopy, artist Wolfgang Stuppy has produced remarkable, other worldly photographs of entire as wellas cross-sections of flowers. (The National Gardener 2009-05-00)

Nature's default mode is beauty. Consider the tiny grains of pollen, works of architecture so intricate and elegant as to defy belief. Humans have only been able to appreciate such wonders after inventing the electronic microscope... but it takes an artist to appreciate their aesthetics. Enter Kesseler, who transforms black-and-white informational images into photographs as resplendent as jewels. Palynologist Harley and seed morphologist Stuppy teamed up with Kestrel to produce three large, dazzling volumes-- Pollen, Seeds, and Fruit. The trio now presents a single, more compact and more mobile, and equally gorgeous and mind-blowing volume about the marvelous yet secret lives of plants. (Donna Seaman Booklist 2009-12-01)

While most gardeners enjoy practical books on gardening techniques and plants, sometimes it's nice to have a book that just wows you. (Charlie Nardozzi National Gardening Association 2009-11-24)

From pollen to seeds to fruits, you'll see the intricacies of plant reproduction in a whole new way as you peruse the fantastic photographic images in The Bizarre and Incredible World of Plants. A compilation of the best of three earlier books, this volume is a visual feast of incredible, close-up photographs by visual artist Rob Kessler, who used special light and scanning electron microscopy to capture everything from an up-close view of the minute hairs covering the skin of a peach to the astounding array of shapes, sizes and structures of seeds and pollen. These entrancing images are accompanied by interesting information from seed morphologist Wolfgang Stuppy and pollen expert Madeline Harley on the botanical purposes of plants' reproductive structures and the roles they play in preserving biodiversity. You'll find out about the many strategies plants have devised for getting their pollen and seeds where they need to go for the continuation of the species. For example, you'll learn that the largest seed in the world is carried by the nut of the Seychelles palm and that only 10 percent of plants are wind-pollinated. What a great way to increase your botanical knowledge! (National Gardener 2010-07-03)

This visual treat, accompanied by engaging botanical descriptions, invites readers to discover the thrill of looking at the everyday from an uncommon perspective. (Natalya Stanko Sierra Club 2010-09-08)

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Customer Reviews

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See all 15 customer reviews
The color was vivid and beautiful.
J. Johnson
This book would appeal to both adults and children, however, I am using the book when I teach Jr. Master Gardener classes to 3rd and 4th graders.
Lilly M
I gave this to my dad as a Christmas present and two months later it is still a book he looks at often.
Carrie Klamut

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Paul Sas on May 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Amazing photos, with quite illuminating explanatory text. Lots of opportunities to learn obscure botanical terms too, such as anemochory (the strategy of dispersing seeds via the wind). My one peeve is that the labels for all the beautiful microscopic images are pushed to an appendix, so that one has to jump to the back to find out what is depicted. Since over half the pages don't even have page numbers, this task of decryption is extra hard. I wish that the authors would have found a design method for including a modest amount of identifying text on the page with each image. This quibble, notwithstanding, the book is a joy to page through, and repays frequent returns to study the unusual shapes of each surface.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Robert Busko VINE VOICE on December 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The Bizarre and Incredible World of Plants by Wolfgang Stuppy, Rob Kessler, and Madeline Harley is almost a spiritual experience to thumb through and read. A fairly short book at 144 pages, The Bizarre and Incredible World of Plants still contains an impact that is awe inspiring. I'm not sure how many will actually read the included text but Madeline Harley did a masterful job in creating an engaging story that competes well with the photos.

If you want to engage children of all ages in the beauty of the natural world, then this is the book to let them browse through. We'll create another generation of scientists and environmentalists for sure. I was hooked on astronomy as a hobby because of beautiful photos of Saturn. They changed my life. This volume might work the same majic.

Peace to all.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Szienceman on July 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The photos are exceptional. Really makes these things interesting to anyone, but it makes it really difficult to take that curiosity anywhere when any and all information about the picture is buried in a wall of text at the end of the book. Why couldn't they put ten words the size of a couple postage stamps right next to the images?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stan Spector on January 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover
These photos are really stunning. It shows the true beauty of nature. School age children show look through it to get an appreciation for nature.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Klaus Schmitt on April 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book is a real feast for the readers eye, be it "just" a coffee table book or a book for the scientifically interested reader. Page by page that hardly known micro world unfolds in breathtaking images showing previously unseen micro structures in amazing detail and precision, thanks to the use of a scanning electron microscope (SEM) used at Kew Gardens Milennium Seed Bank Project. I cannot more than recommend it also as a great gift.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lilly M on April 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book would appeal to both adults and children, however, I am using the book when I teach Jr. Master Gardener classes to 3rd and 4th graders. The photographs are absolutely incredible and the text is wonderful. Even the adults oooh and aaah over the photographs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Carmel Glover on July 26, 2014
Format: Paperback
I borrowed this book from the library ... my usual practice before buying a fairly expensive book. The book looks gorgeous and the illustrations are fabulous, and I was interested in the subject matter. My 2 stars is based entirely on the illustrations ... if I could have rated them separately they would receive 5 stars.

However, I found the book impossible to read. The entire text (and there's lots of it) is in small reverse print on black, closely spaced on wide columns. There are no captions next to the illustrations (as others have commented). To access descriptions you have to consult the glossary at the back, which is in even smaller reverse text. Then comes an index, which can be no more than 6pt ... yes, still in reverse text. I'm amazed nobody has commented on this.

The copy I borrowed was published in 2009. Perhaps the ridiculous typesetting was rectified in later versions. Consistent use of page numbers would have been a nice touch too.

I would love to have read the text which one review described as 'wonderful', but I would have needed a magnifying glass.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pandatx on May 30, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
this book is glorious. stunningly beautiful photographs. I actually purchased it as an art book for inspiration with colors and patterns. This is one of the best purchases I've made for this purpose. Truly gorgeous.
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