The Beauty Of Microscopic Plant Seeds

Vincent Van Gogh painted sunflowers, and Claude Monet painted irises. Rob Kesseler paints seeds, only he uses electrons to do so.

Working with the Millennium Seed Bank, Kesseler takes scanning electron microscope images of plant seeds on the microscopic scale. He digitally paints them in order to bring out their unique physical and biological traits: Leafy wings that evolved to carry them aloft on the wind, spikes to hitch a ride on an animal’s coat, or a burly coat to survive a trip through the digestive system of a herbivore.

Check out more of his images at Co.Design or at his full Phytopic gallery.


Amazing Close-Up Photos of Seeds

The Millennium Seed Bank, as it is called, was founded in 2000 as an effort to stock away viable seeds, now, should we need them to restore plant populations in the future. Nearly 100,000, or about one quarter, of the world’s plant species, are currently threatened. “We can’t afford to let these plants, and the potential they hold, die out,” says Kew, on its Web site.

The Millennium Seed Bank is a global seed garden of epic proportions. By 2010, the project had amassed about 10 percent of the world’s 400,000 plant species, and the trajectory is to reach 25 percent by 2020.

Wouldn’t you like to see it? The vault itself, of course, is hidden from the public eye. But, MSB’s seed morphologist Wolfgang Stuppy and visual artist Rob Kesseler have come up with a clever workaround. - Continue reading at

Photos by: Rob Kesseler

Ed note: The Noah’s Ark of plants and flowers.


microscopic photos of nature by rob kesseler

british photographer and professor rob kesseler captures the exotic microscopic detailing of various flora. merging the worlds of  art and science, kesseler’s depictions of the natural world were initially inspired by medieval stylistic illustrations and dutch flower paintings -  slowly evolving to reveal the ornate and mesmeric structures of the various plant material he examined. 


A NEW PHYTOPIA by photographer/designer Rob Kesseler
In the tradition of making nature aesthetically accessible 
Scanning Electron Microscope Images seen through an artist’s eyes

Just as the original plant employs colour coded messages to attract an audience of insect collaborators; through artistic intervention and interpretation Rob Kesseler creates powerful symbols that carry many messages: markers with which we retain contact with the natural world.

1  Longitudinal section through a flower bud of Citrus hystrix. Kaffir lime

2  Calotis breviradiata, the short-rayed burr daisy [2.8mm long]

3  A completely dehydrated multiporate pollen grain (of Plantago lanceolata. the Ribwort Plantain), folded inwards like a deflated ball  [3000x].

4  Malva syvestris - Common Mallow [4800x - acetolysed].

More information and more photographs can be found in a downloadable PDF: A New Phytopia [infocus Magazine issue 10 June 2008]