This series, devoted to plant structure, has included classic volumes by Esau
on phloem, Martens on Gnetales, and Roth on fruit structure. This volume is
the latest contribution to that series. In contrast to earlier monographs on
the seeds of flowering plants by Netolitzky and Corner that had a taxonomic
focus, Werker's treatment is organized to combine a roll call of structures
with discussion of life history roles. She provides an extensive review of
seed morphological and surface features, which have important application in
For my own interests, one of the greatest values of the book is that it will
provide systematists with a resource they can use for better understanding and
characterizing the morphological diversity of seeds. A highly significant
facet of the book is its treatment of life history aspects of seeds, including
topics such as desiccation, dispersal, dormancy and longevity.
Given the recent emphasis on the physiology and
molecular biology of processes such as dormancy,
it is refreshing to have Werker's review of structures
that play a role in the life history events of seeds.
Most of the examples discussed are from economically important families, such
as Fabaceae and Poaceae, but data from a wide variety of angiosperms are
included. Her review, however, is not taxonomically comprehensive -- one
cannot pick a favored family and expect to find its seeds discussed.
The book is well written and very concise; the text
is supplemented by numerous simple line drawings
and high~uality micrographs. Werker has provided
an exceptionally valuable volume that will have
broad application in future investigations of seeds.
Larry Hufford, Marion Owabey Herbanum and
Botany, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington
Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 74(2),1999 p. 231