Seeds-familiar, mysterious, wonderful, endlessly fascinating, but rarely considered carefully. In this beautifully written popular exposition, Jonathan Silvertown brings seeds to life, illuminating their diversity, their amazing properties, their role in nature, evolution and fate over time, germination and fate in the life of an individual. To be read by all those interested in nature: they will gain deeper understanding from the lively words that trace these and many other aspects of these familiar structures.
— Peter H. Raven, Director, Missouri Botanical Garden
An oak yields millions of acorns through its life, yet one survivor alone secures its line: natural selection acts most stringently on a seed. Here the author of Demons in Eden, with apt and at times hilarious quotation, explores how humanity has ingeniously exploited the extraordinary and complex devices by which plants, through their seeds, have surmounted competition. Beneath, we observe the relentless yet haphazard tide which is evolution.
— Peter Ashton, Harvard University


"...a fabulous book on the natural history of seeds and their evolution ... Silvertown has produced a gem. "Convince me that you have a seed there," said naturalist Henry David Thoreau, "and I am prepared to expect wonders." Read this book as a gardener, scientist, food aficionado, historian, botanist or naturalist, and you'll not be disappointed." — Times Higher Education 

“...a subtle but engaging narrative of the evolutionary struggles of seeds.” — Times Literary Supplement

"A SEED hidden in the heart of an apple is an orchard invisible" goes the Welsh proverb that lends this fascinating book its title. Focusing on seeds, ecologist Jonathan Silvertown has written a witty and charming introduction to the evolutionary wiles of the plant kingdom. Who knew, for instance, that we enjoy beer thanks to yeast's devious scheme to poison fermenting barley seeds with alcohol, denying their nutrients to other microorganisms?

Cooking and eating become evolutionary subversions, too, in Silvertown's entertaining company, as humans exploit the extraordinary biochemical ingenuity of plants, and vice versa. If the apple is the tree's way of getting us to spread its seeds, we have our passion for ripe fruits to thank for the evolution of our three-colour vision, which allows us to see red berries hidden in a sea of green. Do read this eye-opening book."

New Scientist 

". . . Silvertown writes both elegantly and clearly, and the book is as pleasurable to read as it is informative."—Library Journal

"Silvertown is a witty botanist with a flair for seeds ...All botanists will enjoy this tribute to seeds. Recommended." Choice

"The book tours the marvels of plant seeds, standing out among others on the subject by emphasizing how the weird and the wonderful have evolved. "— Science News 

"...from a single idea — a natural history of seeds — emerges an enthralling study of the ways seeds survive in the terrestrial world, and also sustain us humans." — Seattle Times

"I loved this little book. In his first two chapters Silvertown's prose gets a little thorny with botanical language, but don't lose heart, because An Orchard Invisible practically spills over with interesting insights." — Boston Globe

"An Orchard Invisible is a veritable wonder-cabinet."  -Phoebe Connelly, Barnes & Noble

"For all its erudition, however, this is not an encyclopedia of botanical lore, nor a definitive text, but rather a little gem of science writing that deserves a spot on any natural history lover’s bedside bookstand. To be sure, it may help you make small talk at a convention of palynologists or Burpee seed salesmen, but, at its root, it is simply a delight to read." Natural History Magazine

"Jonathan Silvertown...has answered two fundamental but complex questions: what are seeds and how have they evolved? An Orchard Invisible contains some dense scientific argument but Silvertown, who is fascinated by the evolutionary strategies of seeds, nevertheless succeeds in making his enthusiasm infectious enough to attract the general reader". Financial Times

"Any botanist, any Gardener, and anyone who has ever marvelled at the idea of a massive tree exploding from something as tiny as a seed will exalt in the beauty of this book. Born out of a scientific inquiry of the evolution of plants and their remarkable system of reproduction and dispersal is an eloquent account of seed as history, seed as metaphor, and seed as literature. An Orchard Invisible is thoughtful, illuminating, and accessible science writing at its finest." Kepler’s Bookstore, Menlo Park, CA

"In a nutshell, I will never look at seeds the same way again, whether teeny poppy seeds or mammoth coconuts. I now share ecologist Jonathan Silvertown's view that seeds aren't just seeds, they're reminders of the complexity and diversity of life on Earth. In his delicious little book, Silvertown tells the tale of the not-so-humble seed, from its origins 360 million years ago to its richness today. As he says: "... I hope to persuade you that reading about seeds is yet another way to enjoy them." You will be." The Australian