CRESCENTIA ALATA by Pia Wortham
This last book in the nature series is a tree I have come to know well only as an adult. The Crescentia alata or “Morro” in Mexico is pollinated exclusively by nectar feeding bats. Research for this book revealed the fact the adaptation to nectar feeding has occurred more than once in bat evolution. It is a symbiosis of sorts; the tree grows its flowers from the trunk of the tree instead of the small branches near the canopy. This phenomenon is called cauliflory and it occurs in other plants such as cacao. Having the flowers sticking out from a relatively smooth trunk makes the flower easier to find with echolocation. The bats ability to hover like humming birds makes tree and bat perfect for each other. The fruit plays a role in Mayan myth and in Oaxacan culture and crafts. It is thought that this cultural importance will save this bat population from extinction through habitat fragmentation.
My process includes many initial in-situ studies, the research for the text, deciding on a binding structure, layout and execution of the drawings, and finally producing a limited edition. I chose this binding because it reflects the process of discovery of the plant. The front panel shows a small branch of the detail of the leaves, hence the name Alata, the tree with fruit and large close up of the flower. The back panel is a sequence of close up details of the path from bud to flower to fruit.
The text in the book is hand written in English.
The book measures 11,2×15,2×1,8cm. when closed. It opens up to a two sided poster accordion that measures 41.7cm x 58.4cm. Each side is a digital print in real size of a watercolor and pencil original drawing describing what I find most interesting about this tree. It is printed on rag duo A2 size Hahnemühle paper. The cover is hardbound cardboard lined in book cloth. Archival materials.
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