Saturday, October 1

The Pictorial Guide to Seeds of the World

What a coincidence that Mark from Mark’s Veg Plot has just posted a book review as just like him I have been approached to review a book too!

The book that I was sent was The Pictorial Guide to Seeds of the World. It’s a newly published book by Terry Woodger. Terry is a professional horticulturalist and botanist based in Australia who for ten years had his own seed collection business.

I know lots of you regularly collect your own seed so this could well be a book for you. I must admit that I have never really got into collecting in a serious way but having browsed this book then I think I may be missing a trick and am inspired to have a go.

My first impression of the book was that it looked inviting. The cover is attractive and appropriately represents the content. The content is clearly presented, it is uncluttered and the print large enough to read comfortably but not so large that it has the look of a school reading book.

The book doesn’t claim to cover every seed in the world - this would be impossible - but it does cover a very significant number, most of which are illustrated by scaled photographs. I do like to have plenty of photos in this type of book.

Although the book doesn’t go above your head by being too scientific the introduction includes an outline of the types of fruit (seed cases) that you may come across. I now can impress people by knowing that a drupelet is one of the tiny cluster of berries that make up a raspberry
Chapter One covers methods that can be used to collect seeds including use of a tennis racquet or a small vacuum cleaner.

The main reference section is divided into chapters covering vegetables, herb & spices, garden flowers, fruit & trees, shrubs and vines. Within each section seeds are grouped according to plant family and referred to by both their common and botanical names.
Are any of these the beans you are looking for Tanya?

Finally is a section on how to clean and store seeds including descriptions of pests and fungus that can affect seed storage and suggestions for how to combat them.

Although Terry does mention professional seed collection and preparation equipment  most of the equipment suggested is either home made or uses items readily available in the home so there is no need to go out spending a fortune on ‘proper’ kit.

So to sum up the book is reader-friendly. As I already mentioned, it doesn’t complicate matters by being too scientific but neither is it too basic.

This isn’t a book to read from cover to cover - after reading sections relating to collection, cleaning and storage of seeds, the main sections which describes each seed is more for dipping in and out of for reference purposes.

Although on the face of it this is quite expensive for a paperback, I can understand why. I know from experience how difficult it is to get photographs of seeds of a good quality and then to add a scale to each and gather together all the information must have taken years. 

It may even encourage me to be adventurous and have a go at growing  new plants from collected seed, If I do then you will be sure to hear about it.

If you're interested the book can be bought at Amazon UK

 or Amazon US 

and no doubt other Amazons too!


  1. You are right Sue this is a book that I will be very interested in. Hope our local library has this book. Have a nice weekend!

  2. You may have to ask at your library Diana as it is a very new book. Our libraries don't tend to buy new books.

  3. "Great minds think alike"... or is it "Fools seldom differ" ??

  4. Let's stick to the great minds, Mark - we may be fooling ourselves but who will know any different?

  5. This book sounds like a very good book to have. I will check it out and just maybe put it on my list for Santa!

  6. Nice review. Nice book. Just a little pricey!

    I'm a big fan of Roger Phillips and this appears to do for seeds what Mr Phillips did for plants! I would put this alongside Watt's Dictionary of Plant Lore (once I had saved up to buy it).

    It's a pity you didn't get the Peas and Cucumbers book to review as you have some previous in that area!

  7. Definitely a Christmas present type of book Robin

    I like the Roger Phillips books too, Mal we have three of his - Bulbs, Wild Flowers and Trees and now you come to mention it - this book is similar. Peas and Cucumbers book?

  8. Sorry, Mal I hadn't registered that was the name of the book Mark reviewed! I think I could actually write one of those types of books!

  9. Hi Sue...non of those were the beans i was looking for...but the mystery has 'bean' You can find out in my comments section. I love the write up you have given this book and I will definitely be giving it a look....I don't have anything like this and as I am now seriously thinking of saving more of my own seed i think it would be a great investment!!!

  10. Glad you found your bean Tanya.

  11. That could be well worth investing in if it helps save seed and keep it viable. I am very hit and miss about seed collection - and its subsequent use!

  12. I'm a bit the same, Janet. I tagged a whole load of cosmos flowers that I liked so I could save seed one year. The tags either came off or I missed them when dead heading!

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