The Triumph of Seeds

Hanson, T. 2015. The Triumph of Seeds. New York: Basic Books. p xiii-18; p55-80.


The Triumph of Seeds, by Thor Hanson, is an eye-opening and scientific novel that I would suggest to all my fellow botany enthusiasts. So far I’ve completed the introduction, chapter one, four and five. I find this book very impressive as it is factual but remains captivating. Hanson shares his personal story about how seeds play a role in his life and how he was inspired by his toddlers enthusiasm for seeds. The author explains the huge importance of seeds throughout history and the powerful influence they hold on the world today.

Hanson began his story by taking us through the avocado germination process he is undergoing in his Raccoon Shack. I was chatting with my classmate who is also reading this book and we were both inspired to start growing an avocado ourselves. He also starts growing peas as an experiment, inspired from an evolutionary scientist, Mendel. Hanson shares the story of Mendel, who made great evolutionary discoveries but was never acknowledged for his work during his lifetime.

I really enjoyed Hansons writing style. He acknowledged a connection between human and seeds that I never knew existed until I read this book. He included thought provoking facts like on page xxii, “Homo sapiens may have never evolved in a world that lacked seeds.” This made me think about how often seeds come up in my daily routine. Honestly, mostly through food! Reading this book made me appreciate all that plants provide for us everyday, through food, clothes, paper, and so much more.

I also really enjoyed how Hanson made scientific processes easy to understand. For example on page 68, “A towel is just the beginning… People can cover up their nakedness with whatever they want: shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, cocktail dress, or even a suit of armour.” After reading this I found myself asking, why all this variety in clothing? In the statement above, Hanson provides us with a comparison of the naked human body and a evolving gymnosperm seed. The evolution of gymnosperm to angiosperm was a long process but it allowed time for great changes to arise. Angiosperms developed structures that would appeal to pollinators just as a cocktail dress appeal to humans. A seed may want to wear a suit of armour to wait until the growing conditions are right. Each angiosperm developed structures based on their individual needs, thus, a variety of beautiful and diverse structures were evolving.


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