While we eagerly await the ripening of our favorite summer fruits, microscopic competitors are at work multiplying and consuming them in a world beyond our sight. If we wait too long, the activity of fungi, bacteria, and other microbes will soon appear as an unexpected blotch, suspicious “fuzz,” or oddly curled foliage. Yet, there is a beauty in this natural decaying process that repeats with each season.
“Fruits in Decay,” a new exhibit in the Glass Flowers gallery at the Harvard Museum of Natural History explores blight, rot, and other diseases on summer fruits.
This special exhibit features exquisitely detailed glass botanical models of strawberries, peaches, apricots, plums, and pears made by famed glass artist Rudolf Blaschka between 1924-32. On display for the first time in nearly two decades, the models capture — with astonishing realism — the intricacies and strange beauty of fruits in various stages of decay.
“Rudolf Blaschka’s last work centered on the creation of these models of diseased fruits. They are the culmination of his lifelong attention to accuracy and innovation. They illustrate the effects of fungi as agents of disease in plants and point to their importance in agricultural systems,” said Donald H. Pfister, curator of the Farlow Library and Herbarium of Cryptogamic Botany and Asa Gray Professor of Systematic Botany.