It was the beginning of December 2004 when I first met Fritz at the Wood Anatomy and Tree-Ring Ecology Course in Davos, Switzerland. As a master student, three generations younger, the many stories about his charisma had already reached me so I knew then Fritz was going to be an inspiring mentor. Today, as I write this foreword to his captivating book, I share words that I always hoped I would have the chance to write, but never following his passing.
A few months after meeting Fritz in Davos, I was invited to Birmensdorf (CH) to learn how to prepare specimen slides for wood anatomy on his old Reichert black microtome. That was when Fritz showed me how to truly find the beauty in wood anatomy. He cut my first slide. Slide number 1 of my collection is from a Rosa chionistrae twig I collected on Cyprus. I still remember well Fritz’s joyful face when he turned to me from looking at it through the microscope. The beauty of the cross-section amazed him: “All roses look the same…” he said, “…aren’t they beautiful!”. That degree of emotive response typified his attitude towards the study of plant stem anatomy. Fritz had a daily routine based around two distinct activities. He would begin his day in the lab by preparing about 20 slides from plant samples. At home, in the afternoon and evening, he would sit for hours at the microscope describing the anatomical structures and admiring the great beauty hidden in their minute detail. Fritz shared all he found beautiful throughout the microscope with his wife Elisabeth. In many ways, Elisabeth’s distance from the study of plant anatomical structure helped Fritz to see a different elegance, one that combined a profound admiration for both the form and function of the structures he was cataloguing.
This book is the result of their passion for the beauty hidden in plant stem cells. The book presents over 100 beautiful anatomical images of plant structures as seen at 1 to 1000 times magnification. A few years ago, Fritz and Elisabeth presented some of these images at the Wood Anatomy and Tree-Ring Ecology Course in which I have been teaching together with Holger Gärtner. At first students were confused. Most students did not have any experience in plant anatomy, and many could not believe the images they were seeing were images of plant cells. They saw angels, stars, waterfalls, insects, snowmen… Elisabeth was there to inspire their imagination, and Fritz was there to provide the nomenclature, anatomical descriptions, and physiological details. As you will see both Fritz’s and Elisabeth’s approaches are pervasive throughout this book. Though every image is accompanied by a short caption that provides some context about what one is seeing, the space left for your imagination is immense. Beware: you can get lost in this book. Regardless of whether you are going to use the book to relax your mind after a busy day, refresh your plant anatomy knowledge, or seek inspiration for your next graphic design project. As long as these images inspire you, Fritz and Elisabeth have accomplished their goal. This book is the collection of their favorite images.
Cambridge, April 2020