The Triumph of Seeds

Hanson, T. 2015. The triumph of seeds. Basic Books. New York. (Introduction, Chapters 1,4,5)

In the intro to Triumph of Seeds, Hanson examines the immense power of the perseverance of seeds. He aims to show how the seed as come to survive as the most common type of plant, and how humans now rely on them. Everything from cotton, to coffee is the result of a seed, and human history has been shaped by them.

“We live in a world of seeds. From our morning coffee and bagel to the cotton in our clothes and the cup of cocoa we might drink before bed, seeds surround us all day long.” (pg. 27) Hanson states in his introduction how immediately connected we are to seeds, even if we don’t realize it. From the bulk of our food, to the basis of our economies, Hanson argues that seeds rule, and are in face vital for human life. The structure of his book aims to reveal the five points he introduces at the start: seeds nourish, seeds unite, seeds endure, seeds defend, and seeds travel.

In the first chapter, he uses the avocado as a basic example of a functioning seed. His colleagues Carol and Jerry give the “baby in a box” analogy to neatly capture the essence of seeds (pg. 44). Carol explains that “[a] seed contains three basic elements: the embryo of a plant (the baby), a seed coat (the box), and some kind of nutritive tissue (the lunch)” (pg. 44). She then describes how the embryo typically feeds on its lunch to sprout its first green leaves, roots, and shoots. This analogy brings the complexity of seed germination to an understandable level for a wider audience. In chapter five, the description of the pea is also used.

 

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