image EL_L2_04_Fig02
Image number: RS.15774
Credit: ©The Royal Society

Seeds from the kapok tree


10 June 1686


Unknown, Artist

Object type

Archive reference number

Manuscript page number




height (page): 144mm
width (page): 164mm



Two small papers have been pasted together to make this page in a letter by Antoni van Leeuwenhoek to the Royal Society, containing 23 figures in total.

Fig. 1: silique or seed-bearing fruit called Kapok (he mentions that he had this one drawn as it was slightly split open, so that one can see the inside).

Fig. 2: little seed with its hard rind, taken out of the cotton.

Fig. 3: little seed stripped of its hard rind as it lies enclosed by its membrane, commonly called pip or kernel.

Fig. 4: little seed stripped of its membrane after having lain in water a while.

Fig. 5: leaves lying spread apart, which are very white, here drawn magnified.

Fig. 6: the young plant, its seeds not so stretched out.

Object history

30 June 1686, ‘Part of a letter of Mr. Leewenhoeck was read, containing his microscopical observations upon the seeds of several Indian plants, shewing how the leaves and the part designed for the root and stem are wrapped up within the said seeds’ (Birch 4:492).

The letter and images were also published in Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, Ontledingen en ontdekkingen. Van de cinnaber naturalis, en bus-poeder; van het maaksel van been en huyd; van de galnoot, kastanie en okkernoot; van de voortteelinge van eenige zaden, vergeleken by de Voortteelinge van Garnaad, krabbe, en kreeft; waar in de deugdsaamheid van het eyken-hout bestaat, en hoe het te kennen is (Leiden: Cornelis Boutesteyn, 1686), pp. 66-86.

Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, Anatomia Seu interiora Rerum, Cum Animatarum tum Inanimatarum, Ope & beneficio [sic] exquisitissimorum Microscopiorum Detecta, variisque experimentis demonstrata [etc.] (Leiden: C. Boutesteyn, 1687), pp. 227-40.

Related Fellows

Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723, Dutch), Naturalist

Associated place

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