Flowers have played an important role in human culture and survival for thousands of years. The final products of flowers – fruits and seeds – are vitally important as food. Flowers provide bursts of colour to homes and gardens and they symbolize love, sorrow, and renewal. Yet we often overlook their real purpose. Why do flowers exist and why do they have certain colours, shapes, and smells? What function does a flower have in the life and survival of the plants themselves?
In nature, flowers play an essential role in improving a plant's chances of survival. Some flowers are pollinated by wind or water but most are designed to attract and reward pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, birds, and bats, to carry their pollen from flower to flower. After being pollinated, flowers produce fruits and again take advantage of wind, water, and animals to disperse their seeds, ensuring a new generation of their species.
Pollination and seed dispersal are fine-tuned systems, and their importance in sustaining a healthy environment cannot be overstated. And, as ongoing climate and other environmental changes apply new pressures, flowers must continue to adapt in order to survive.
In this beautifully illustrated book with over 200 photographs, Michael Fogden and Patricia Fogden draw from existing research and their extensive field experiences all over the world to present a detailed but accessible introduction to the natural history of flowers. They discuss a representative sample of flowering and fruiting strategies, illustrating interactions between plants and their pollinators and dispersers, and conclude with descriptions of their favourite tropical flowers.
Michael Fogden and Patricia Fogden are freelance writers and acclaimed nature photographers whose work has appeared in books and magazines worldwide. They are the authors of Hummingbirds of Costa Rica and Hummingbirds: A Life-Size Guide to Every Species. The Fogdens have conducted research and lived all around the world, including Costa Rica, Uganda, and Australia. They currently live in the UK.
"The Natural History of Flowers delivers a sweeping survey of flowers by getting in close to their relationships in nature. With macro lenses and quick shutters, the Fogdens show the striking details and stunning vibrancy of some of the bugs, birds, bats, and other species that rely on flowers for food – and on which flowers and their plants depend for pollination and propagation. After all, the world of the flower – displayed through specks of nectar on a blowfly and the fluttering wings of a hummingbird – is one of symbiosis."
"The Natural History of Flowers – gorgeously designed and you-and-me accessible – provides an excellent guide into that stunning floral realm. Expect to learn about the secrets of flower advertisements, color, nectar guides, scents and rewards."
– Texas Gardener's Seeds