The Hidden Sexuality of Flowers

Rob Kesseler & Madeline Harley

Foreword by Sir Peter Crane

The extraordinary beauty and structure of pollen grains invisible to the naked eye.

305 x 280 mm

264 pages


ISBN: 978-1-906506-01-8


IPPY Gold Medal 2006 - Outstanding Book of the Year: Most Original Design

Subjects: Nature, Photography

This book is the result of the shared fascination of an artist and a scientist with the perfect design of pollen grains, organisms so small that they cannot be seen without a microscope. The grains are enclosed beyond the accessible beauty of the flower until the moment of release, when they are carried by wind, water or animal vectors to achieve their purpose, which is procreation. Starting with a clear explanation of the structure and form of pollen, the authors go on to examine the remarkable events from pollination to fertilisation, and the many ways in which pollen impacts unseen on our lives. All of this is interwoven with a dazzling array of original images by the authors, created especially for the book.   Pollen is a unique interpretation of a magical world that no other book on the subject has ever been able to achieve.   Published in collaboration with Kew Royal Botanic Gardens.  

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Rob Kesseler & Madeline Harley

Visual artist Rob Kesseler is University of the Arts London Chair in Arts, Design & Science. His long career has often used plants as a source of inspiration. In 2001 he was appointed NESTA Fellow at Kew. Since then he has worked with microscopic plant material. He was 2010 Year of Bio-Diversity Fellow at the Gulbenkian Science Institute, Portugal. His work has been shown in museums and galleries in the UK, Europe and North America, including solo exhibitions at The Victoria & Albert Museum, Kew Gardens and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon. He is a fellow of the Linnean Society and Royal Society of Arts. Botanist Madeline Harley was, until her retirement in 2005, Head of the Pollen Research Unit at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Her research work, which is internationally recognised, is concerned mainly with the study of species-specific pollen characteristics in the field of flowering plant evolution and relationships. She has authored or co-authored more than 80 professional articles and books. She has presented her work at numerous international conferences. Dr Harley is a Fellow of the Linnean Society and holds an Honorary Research Fellowship for her work at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.  

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"A visual feast"
Country Life

"These mere specks are gargantuan on the ultravivid pages of [this book]"

"Brilliantly conveys the beauty and amazing diversity of these commonplace yet unseen substances"

"Beautiful pollen grains, revealed in startling close-up"
Daily Mail

"The sex life of plants is taken far from the dry textbook and into a lush world of colour and improbably complex shapes"
BBC Wildlife Magazine