Time Capsules of Life

Rob Kesseler & Wolfgang Stuppy

Preface by HRH The Prince of Wales

The fascinating history of seeds – stunningly produced, highly acclaimed and now in compact edition.

200 x 220 mm

264 pages


ISBN: 978-1-906506-52-0


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

Subjects: Nature, Photography

The appearance of the first seeds some 360 million years ago was a momentous step in the evolution of land plants. Since then they have evolved into highly sophisticated structures that have enabled plants to conquer almost every habitat from the Antarctic to the hottest deserts. True time capsules of life, seeds may travel thousands of miles and, if necessary, wait for hundreds of years before germinating. They range from the giant Seychelles nut that weighs twenty kilos to the tiny dust-like seeds of orchids and include the mesmerizing blue seeds of the Malagasy Traveller’s Tree, the perfectly aerodynamic wafer-thin gliders of the Monkey Pod and, most extraordinary, the seeds of the parasitic Desert Hyacinth that resemble a miniature honeycomb. In this informative and enthralling book, artist Rob Kesseler and seed morphologist Wolfgang Stuppy of Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank present a natural history of seeds, illustrated with stunning close-up photographs and scanning electron micrographs that reveal an astonishing microcosm where the tiniest examples are the most beautiful and sophisticated. Seeds constitutes a treasure trove to enlighten and inspire both those fascinated by the natural world and artists, designers, and indeed scientists. Published in collaboration with Kew Royal Botanic Gardens.

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Rob Kesseler & Wolfgang Stuppy

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. Wolfgang Stuppy is the Seed Morphologist at Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank based at Wakehurst Place in Sussex. At the heart of this large international project, which collects and stores seeds and fruits from all over the world, Dr. Stuppy has found the ideal environment to feed his passion for research into the astonishing diversity of seeds and fruits. A specialist in a rarely studied field, Dr. Stuppy teaches seed biology to university students and members of the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership within the UK and overseas.

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"Forget anything you may have thought about the carefully segregated protocols of science and art"

"There are larkspur seeds surrounded by papery flamenco-dancer skirts, cornflower seeds that look like interstellar spacecraft and rosebay willowherb propagules sprouting hairs like writhing tentacles on a coral reef sea creature"
BBC Wildlife

"Brilliant words, brilliant pictures, brilliant presentation ... one could almost touch the seed structures jutting out from the pages"
Lab Times

"Quite simply inspirational"