The thousands of trees, shrubs, and vines that visitors encounter at the Arnold Arboretum exemplify the abundant diversity of Earth’s woody plants as well as the many adaptive strategies they employ to ensure the success of their offspring. Autumn is a great time to explore this phenomena in the Arboretum landscape, as many plants produce and shed their seed at this time of year. “Dispersal: Photographs by Anna Laurent,” an exhibition opening at the Arnold Arboretum on October 26, illustrates the fascinating ways that plants have evolved to disseminate seeds through beautiful, highly-detailed photographs.
On view in the Arboretum’s Hunnewell Building through January 26, the images captured by Anna Laurent expose the complex and often ingenious ways that plants have evolved to disperse seeds. As a photographer and columnist for Print magazine’s online blog, Imprint, she has made a unique study of the plants she has encountered, from the urban wilds of Southern California to the rain forests of Hawaii, the deserts of northern Iraq, and public gardens throughout the United States. For this exhibition, images of seed pods were captured exclusively at the Arnold Arboretum, highlighting select examples of dispersal mechanisms employed by both flowering and non-flowering plants in the living collections. Individually, each of the 33 photographs included in the exhibition is a fine art portrait of a unique botanic specimen; as a series, it is a scientific exploration of reproductive adaptation and the diversity of botanic design.