Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Fruit - up close and personal

Fruit, a new book by Rob Kesseler and Wolfgang Stuppy, provides an amazingly up close examination of the colourful fruits and seeds that make our world so tasty. Kesseler and Stuppy use electron microscopy to showcase seeds, sometimes providing insight into the ingenious ways in which fruits make sure their seeds get spread. The photos are beautiful.

Scarlet pimpernel. When an animal brushes past the scarlet pimpernell, it knocks the outer casing open so that the seeds can escape. Seeds that fall onto the animal catch a free ride to distant fields.

Creeping carrot. This seed has wings, which allow it to fly in the wind, and spikes, which allow it to attach to passing animals. In either case, it can go far.

Strawberries. Mmmmmmmmm.

Peach skin. The short and long hairs make up the peach fuzz. The interspersed spots are fruits the breathing pores.

Poppy. When the wind blows the poppy, its tiny little seeds are thrown out of the open holes at the top of the capsule, like salt from salt shaker.

Three corner jack (Emex australis). Now matter how this seed falls, it always has a sharp spike that will stick up into the air, so that it can lodge itself into the foot of a passing animal and hitch a ride.

A fig. You will never see flowers on fig trees - oddly, the fig flowers are closely packed together inside the fruit, as is shown above.

Japanese wineberry.

Mulberry. Unlike blackberries and raspberries, which form from a single flower, the mulberry forms from a cluster of flowers, with each flower creating a single tasty segment of fruit.

Kiwi skin.

This seed has lots of hooks, which allows it to cling to the outside of animals. Apparently many herbs use this technique to ensure the dispersal of their seeds.

And some others that you need to buy the book to find out more about:

An interesting slideshow of some of these photos is available here. Time to go make a fruit salad now.

PS: Thanks to Hackosphere for helping me to use selective expandable posts.