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The Rose's Kiss: A Natural History Of Flowers Hardcover – May 1, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-1559635646 ISBN-10: 1559635649 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In this skillful blend of art, literature, science, and scholarship, BernhardtAan expert in the field of floral structure and the author of Natural Affairs: A Botanist Looks at the Attachments Between Plants and PeopleAuses the rose as a starting point to describe the anatomy, embryology, morphology, and paleobiology of plants. As in his other books, he begins each chapter with a philosophical quote, a poem, or an excerpt from a wide variety of literatures, and his presentation of botanical information is woven with stories that clarify the scientific concept. Writing not only for the botanist, Bernhardt is clear, precise, and witty. The book's current glossary of terms could be expanded, but this is still a wonderful read. Recommended for all libraries.AMichael R. Blake, Harvard Univ. Lib., Cambridge, MA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

“This entertaining new book by Peter Bernhardt is a mine of information on the natural history of flowers.”
(Gail Vines New Scientist)

“Bernhardt takes the reader on an eloquent botanical journey into the depths of plant biology, history, and research. . . . It’s impossible to paraphrase this book it is so full of spark and humor and ideas.”
(Barbara Tufty Audubon Naturalist News)

“The author well illustrates the intimate association between plants and animals, and guides the reader through all aspects of floral biology, from details of the structure of flowers through varied pollination syndromes and insect and bird nutrition to the fossil evidence for flowers. This is the sort of book that we would all have seized upon as undergraduates.”
(John Akeroyd Plant Talk)

“This congenial companion begins with plant anatomy and design, reveals what triggers blooming, demystifies the sexy bits, covers pollination and pollinators from bees to ants and bats to birds, then ventures back into the fossil record, all with clarity, authority and warm good humour.”
(Irene Wanner Seattle Times) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 267 pages
  • Publisher: Island Press; 1 edition (May 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559635649
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559635646
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,059,138 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter Bernhardt was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1952 and grew up on Long Island. His interest in natural history developed thanks to the woodland reserve two blocks from his house separating the towns of Merrick and Freeport, his summer attendance at Meroke Day Camp and the influence of local plant breeder and garden designer, the late Joseph Reis. His indulgent parents allowed Peter to keep many small pets (birds, tropical fish, newts, turtles) as well as pots of cacti and succulents. His 1974 BA in Biology came from the State University of New York at Oswego and Peter credits his first attempt at botanical research (a project on how prickly pear cacti grow spines) to Professor James Seago. After taking his Masters Degree in Biology from the State University of New York at Brockport in 1975 Peter spent over two years in Peace Corps at the University of El Salvador in Central America collecting plants for the university's herbarium (plant museum), teaching undergraduate courses and conducting field studies on the pollination of the Gabriel flower (Echeandia macrocarpa). His first popular article on how wild orchids street trees and telephone poles in the city of San Salvador appeared in "Natural History Magazine." After a few months as a technician at the New York Botanical Garden in 1977 he was contributing articles to their now defunct magazine, "Garden." By 1977 he accepted a doctoral scholarship at the University of Melbourne, Australia, where he studied the breeding systems of box mistletoes (Amyema) under Malcolm Calder and the late Bruce Knox. He remains a Professor of Biology at Saint Louis University, Missouri (see his web page at the SLU Department of Biology) and a Research Associate of both the Missouri Botanical Garden (St. Louis) and the Royal Botanic Gardens of Sydney (Sydney, N.S.W., Australia). His fieldwork in pollination biology takes him to Kansas, Missouri and Oregon and abroad to Australia, Israel and China. A sabbatical in 2009 took him back to Australia where he and Retha Meier studied how blue sun orchids (Thelymitra) are pollinated by native bees and why blue-flowered species often hybridize with each other or with the yellow lemon orchid (Thelytmitra antennifera). Consequently, Dr. Bernhardt's books on plant life are often based on real experiences he's enjoyed in the field, the laboratory and his own home garden.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 9 customer reviews
I reviewed this book for Nature and recommended it highly.
Peter G. Kevan
Peter Bernhardt is a professor of biology associated with both the St. Louis University and the Missouri Botanical Garden of St. Louis.
Dianne Foster
Peter Bernhardt (who I don't know personally and have never met) has a deep understanding and obvious love of botany and it shows.
Thomas L. Ogren

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Thomas L. Ogren on June 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
I'm a garden writer myself (Allergy-Free Gardening, Ten Speed Press) and I just finished reading The Rose's Kiss by Peter Bernhardt. I really enjoyed this book and was amazed at how much I learned too. I read quite a bit of botanical-based material and all too often find the writing very dry, factual but not much fun to read. This book though, is just the opposite--it is fun and totally interesting and you'll learn a great deal from it...be you a botanist, gardener, or just someone who likes to learn more about science.
Peter Bernhardt (who I don't know personally and have never met) has a deep understanding and obvious love of botany and it shows. He is also a very fine writer and he explains things so well, so clearly, that they stick in your mind. I expect that he is also a terrific teacher since he is so expert at explaining complicated material in a simple, easy to understand way. He also tosses in hundreds of fascinating little tidbits of information as he explains flowers, for this is a book about flowers, how they're formed, how they work, how they're pollinated---great section on bats and possums and other small animals that pollinate flowers.
I like too the way he explains exactly what each scientific name means and that he always gives the reader the origins of the word.
I underlined heavily my copy of The Rose's Kiss and it is a book that I'll keep going back over, reading again all the many sections I've underlined. This book was a present to me from my Dad, and I would highly recommend it as a present for anyone you care about who has more than a passing interest in botany, horticulture, life sciences, and (or) Nature and gardening. A terrific book!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Foster HALL OF FAME on December 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
Peter Bernhardt is a professor of biology associated with both the St. Louis University and the Missouri Botanical Garden of St. Louis. Although named for America's favorite flower, THE ROSE'S KISS is not dedicated exclusively to the rose. Bernhardt discusses roses throughout the book-particularly the Dog Rose which may be the grandmother of all time-and every section is headed by an epigram saluting the rose, but Bernhardt's focus is the evolution of angiosperms (flowers)-how they came into existence, how they outfoxed the gymnosperms by making themselves irresistible to pollinators, and how today they are in their glory as humans have fallen for their charms.
Hard core gardeners will love this book. Reading Bernhardt you can learn about petals, sepals, carpels and stamens and the fine art of setting seed. The book is loaded with anatomically correct illustrations of flowers and flower parts as well as pollinators and pollinator parts. Did you know, for example, that those large and beautiful colored "petals" on your wind flowers (Anemones, Clematis, Hepatica) are really sepals and not petals at all? The next time your Clematis vine produces flowers, observe the green sepals turn white or purple or pink. Other plants like the rose produce sepals that curl back and reveal true petals that open into colorful flowers.
Anyone who has gardened for a while notices that bees and butterflies seem to prefer one kind of flower over another, and that some plants produce a sweet scent while others are stinky, and some produce exorbitant amounts of pollen while others seem to produce none, and some flowers produce gobs of nectar while others appear dry. Those who have grown annuals, biennials, and perennials might wonder why some plants last one year, some two, and others go on for a time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jim Bernhardt on March 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
I love growing old roses and reading books about roses and plants every now and then. This is the best book on flowers I've read. Peter Bernhardt (no relation -- never met him) takes us from the structure of the flower, through it life cycle, into the intimate details of its sex life, and on an interesting trek through the early history of flowers (which turns out to be much longer and more interesting than I had expected). I was fascinated by the sections on pollen and how flowers produce it and get it to move from plant to plant (or keep it to themselves within the same closed flower). After reading this book I plan to redesign my garden to provide the bees with more nectar producing flowers to give then the energy they need to work the roses. Before reading The Rose's Kiss I thought that dinosaurs lived in a world without flowering plants. I was wrong. Now I am going to reread the Rose's Kiss and find a book on bees. (And a final note, this is not really a book about roses, though they are mentioned several times. It is about flowering plants of all types.)
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The Rose's kiss, although rather strangely titled, offered a very pleasant and thorough description of flower and pollination biology. Peter Bernhardt has a great sense of humor. I have learned and remembered much more from this one book than I have from most of my undergraduate courses in Horticulture. Mr. Bernhardt must be a fantastic lecturer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Peter G. Kevan on September 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I reviewed this book for Nature and recommended it highly. I see no reason to change my mind. It is scholarly, illuminating, witty, easily read, and explains in simple but thorough terms how flowers work. It is a book for the layman that a professional botanist can read with interest. Dr Bernhardt laces the book with personal experiences, relevant anecdotes, and his deep knowldege of botany. I recommend it to anyone who has an interest in floral biology and ecology. There is much to learn from this book.
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