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The Rose’s Kiss

A Natural History of Flowers

"An engaging botanical overview of flowers."-New York Times Book Review

In The Rose’s Kiss, Peter Bernhardt presents a fascinating and wide-ranging look at the natural history of flowers—how they look, what they do, and their often hidden interactions with the surrounding environment and other living organisms upon which they depend for their survival. You’ll discover why flowers are so colorful, how they evolved, and how insects exploit them for their nectar. This is a book for all flower lovers, from naturalists and gardeners to poets and botanists.

Read an excerpt.

290 pages | 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 | © 1999

Biological Sciences: Botany, Natural History



“This entertaining new book by Peter Bernhardt is a mine of information on the natural history of flowers.”

Gail Vines | New Scientist

“Bernhardt takes the reader on an eloquent botanical journey into the depths of plant biology, history, and research. . . . It’s impossible to paraphrase this book it is so full of spark and humor and ideas.”

Barbara Tufty | Audubon Naturalist News

“The author well illustrates the intimate association between plants and animals, and guides the reader through all aspects of floral biology, from details of the structure of flowers through varied pollination syndromes and insect and bird nutrition to the fossil evidence for flowers. This is the sort of book that we would all have seized upon as undergraduates.”

John Akeroyd | Plant Talk

“This congenial companion begins with plant anatomy and design, reveals what triggers blooming, demystifies the sexy bits, covers pollination and pollinators from bees to ants and bats to birds, then ventures back into the fossil record, all with clarity, authority and warm good humour.”

Irene Wanner | Seattle Times

Table of Contents

Introduction - Beyond the Florist’s Shop
1. Brotherhoods and Sisters’ Rooms
2. Limits to Perfection
3. The Pig in the Pizza
4. When to Bloom
5. When to Die
6. Of Pollen, Perpetrators, Politics, and Piety
7. Fruitful Union
8. The Primary Attractions
9. Rewards
10. Unloved but Efficient
11. Psychoanalysis and Serenades
12. The Faithful and Unfaithful Bee
13. The Squawking Tree
14. F is for Fake (and Flower)
15. Into Thin Air
16. Self-Made Marriages and Virgin Births
17. The First Flowers
Glossary of Flower Terms
Annotated Bibliography
About the Author

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