Time Capsules of Life

Rob Kesseler & Wolfgang Stuppy

An award-winning, beautiful, and fascinating natural history of seeds, jointly created by an artist and a scientist, now with a fully updated text and new images.

265 × 290 mm

264 pages


ISBN: 978-1-906506-75-9


Subjects: Photography, Natural History

September 2024

  • Seeds are tiny parcels of life, poised to give rise to anything from ephemeral herbs to giant trees that can live for thousands of years. A close look at these tiny miracles of nature through a scanning electron microscope opens up a view into a fascinating and breathtakingly beautiful microcosm few people, even scientists, have ever seen before. The range of sizes, shapes, and patterns plants have evolved over 360 million years to perfect their one and only chance in life to travel is beyond our wildest imagination.
  • In this astonishing book, artist Rob Kesseler and botanist Wolfgang Stuppy, previously of Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, present a unique and highly unusual natural history of seeds. The story of how seeds evolved to ensure the survival of their species and how they adapted to their natural environments including the animals they share them with is stunningly illustrated, combining close-up photography with digitally enhanced scanning electron micrographs.
  • This book not only captivates and enlightens those interested in the natural world, but also artists, designers, architects and everyone else drawing inspiration from the wonderful and endlessly fascinating world we live in.

Rob Kesseler & Wolfgang Stuppy

  • Rob Kesseler is an award-winning visual artist and Emeritus Professor of Art, Design & Science at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. For the past twenty five years he has worked extensively with botanical scientists and molecular biologists around the world to explore the living world at a microscopic level. Collaborators include The Jodrell Laboratory Kew, The John Innes Centre, Norwich, and the Max Planck Institute, Germany. He works from studios in London and Corfu and exhibits and lectures internationally. In 2010 he was Year of Biodiversity Fellow at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Portugal. 2014 winner of the RMS Scientific Imaging Competition and in 2022 he was awarded 1st Prize, Botanic Garden Rome for images of seeds from the Arts & Science Synergy Foundation. EU Horizon 2020 Programme. Rob Kesseler is a Fellow of the Linnean Society and Ambassador for Royal Microscopical Society.
  • Wolfgang Stuppy is an internationally recognized seed specialist. He began his career in plant conservation upon joining the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in 1999. In 2002, he transitioned to Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst, dedicating fifteen years to the meticulous study of seeds from all over the world. It was during this time that Dr. Stuppy acquired a wealth of expertise in the rare discipline of seed morphology that made him a world-specialist in this field. Trained in Germany, he holds a doctorate in comparative seed morphology and anatomy. Presently, Dr. Stuppy is the curator of the Botanic Garden at Ruhr-University in Bochum, Germany.

Find out more

"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”