Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Buy Used
+ $3.99 shipping
Used: Like New | Details
Sold by Ocelotbooks
Condition: Used: Like New
Comment: Unread with some light shelf wear to outside edges. Items are shipped from Hereford UK within 1 business day. Delivery is usually within 1 week but may on occasion take as long as 3 weeks. See Amazon details for further information.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Seed to Seed: The Secret Life of Plants Paperback – April 16, 2007

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

See all 5 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$6.62 $5.56

Top 20 lists in Books
Top 20 lists in Books
View the top 20 best sellers of all time, the most reviewed books of all time and some of our editors' favorite picks. Learn more
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Even the most hardcore city dweller will be moved by British plant biologist Harberd's look at the life cycle of the thale cress plant, as he records not only the stages of a single species through one year but also provides an outline of "the unseen molecular forces that drive plants from stage to stage." Harberd engagingly shows how this common but ignored garden plant, with its short life span and small genome, is perfect for the plant geneticist, "our own Drosophila (fruit-fly)." Once scientists have determined its entire DNA sequence, they will be able to "get to grips with solving some of the most important questions in plant biology." Most enjoyable are Harberd's passionate observations—from the "exhilarating" results of stem cell behavior to how the "awesome velocity" of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring reminds him of the "brutal in Nature"—and how he successfully uses those observations to convey a view that "the world is a whole" and that even the most common plant can help us "see ourselves as part of something sacred. Perhaps even redefine our science as something sacramental." Illus. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Harberd indicates that this book is an attempt to show how science can enhance our vision of the world; it is written, then, principally for nonscientists. The author, one of the world's leading plant geneticists, describes the developing understanding of how and why plants grow. He explains that experiments are revealing the hidden fundamentals of how the growth of plants is controlled. The book is in the form of a diary of the year 2004, its focus on one small weed in a country churchyard in Norfolk, England, the thale-cress. Harberd comments on the weather ("The sky a salad of dampness; grays, blues, and yellows, all speeding in one direction"). He writes of his search for thale-cress ("What I'd found was a curved line of three, six feet above the remains [in a grave] buried below the ground.)" With 46 black-and-white sketches and diagrams, this book contains some descriptions of plant biology that geneal readers may not nderstand, but his intriguing narrative is not to missed. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (April 16, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074758561X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747585619
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,681,826 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See all 7 customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Top Customer Reviews

By Rob Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on May 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
You know about writer's block, the frightening state of an author who just cannot come up with another idea about which to write. Nicholas Harberd had researcher's block. He had done plenty of work as a laboratory scientist, working out the biochemical mechanisms of some very basic capabilities of growth in plants. Having gotten some answers, there turned out to be more and deeper questions (the familiar pattern that will keep science going forever), but he was not inspired into a next project. What to do? Part of the charm of his book, _Seed to Seed: The Secret Life of Plants_ (Bloomsbury) is that he lets us know how he as a working scientist came to solve that problem. He lets us in on some biological secrets, as he opens up some of the mechanisms that are at the core of what roots and shoots do. Best of all, he gives himself, and imparts to us, a higher appreciation for the natural world, invoking a mystic unity inspired by science, and an appreciation for all the paradoxes that this entails.

The specific subject of Harberd's research and his book is _Arabidopsis thaliana_, the thale-cress, a humble weed which has gained stardom as the first plant to have its DNA entirely sequenced. To dismantle the block that has left him uninspired to start up any new project, Harberd started a journal for 2004 to record the history of one thale-cress plant; this book is his journal. His selected plant isn't one of the thousands of plants in his lab, but one in the wild, for which he (and the reader) come to have interest and affection. In watching the plant, he describes for himself and for us the intricate dance between DNA, RNA, and the proteins for which they code.
Read more ›
2 Comments 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
Completing a research project and polishing off a journal paper left Nicholas Harberd at loose ends. While casting about for a new project, he struck out on a new course. It is good for us that he did. His quest led him to reflect on Nature's mysterious ways in terms that turned him away from his laboratory work to seek fresh insights. Many years of study of the thale-cress, a humble-looking but informative little plant, had provided much detailed information. Harberd, finding a thale-cress atop a grave in a church cemetery, began considering the plant in a fresh view. He developed a broader vision by studying it in Nature instead of his laboratory.

As the notes progress, Harberd describes the processes involved in the plant's growth and development. He explains how the leaves bud, then expand, each new leaf set 137 degrees away from its neighbour. The angle is a mystery, but many plants make rosettes of leaves, each with their own separation formula. The core of plant is the meristem, and there are two of these in each plant - one for roots and one for the shoot. There are genetic triggers launching the growth process. Harberd explains how these work and, as far as is known, how they interact. The plant, all plants apparently, start with a set of proteins, the DELLAs, that actually inhibit the growth process. He develops the scene with other genes and their proteins that "restrict restraint" allowing the plant to flourish - if the conditions are right.

This book is a reflection of his thoughts, dreams, research problems and other facets of his life and work. Harberd describes the conditions of each day of his note-taking, the weather, the other plants, the soil conditions.
Read more ›
Comment 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
My best friend gave me this for my birthday and it truly is one of the best gifts I've ever gotten. I've always loved biology because of its almost mystical qualities. I struggle with the complex jargon and dry language, however. This book is so satisfying for someone who loves science, but doesn't necessarily understand it in a linear way. Harberd explains the science behind plant biology in attainable language and captures all of the beauty and awe that a living thing possesses. What a satisfying, soul-nurturing book!
Comment 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
Nicholas Harberd, now an Oxford professor, has written a yearlong diary that captures his observations of nature. In parallel, he describes the challenges of running a research program. Finally, his family, including his young daughter and son make periodic appearances.

Harberd writes with a painter’s brush, employing a very visual and descriptive language. But his non-verbal artistic skills are also apparent in the illustrations scattered through the book.

Harberd’s research program on plant growth and development uses the cruciferous weed Arabidopsis. Harberd sets out to find an Arabidopsis plant growing wild. He finds one growing in a cemetery, and uses his periodic observations of this plant to explain what is happening at a molecular and cellular level in the plant, and how it relates to his lab’s work.

Translating the scientific language for non-scientists, Harberd is one of those rare scientists who is also an able communicator. For example, in the discussion on cell division in the plant meristem, the anatomical concepts are made understandable by concrete descriptions. There is also a useful glossary of scientific terms at the end of the book.

Seed to Seed is one of those unusual books that give the non-academic a clear look into the scientific process, at the same time relating the artificial lab environment to what happens in nature.
Comment 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse