Vaughn Bryant/Sample courtesy Avinoam Danin

A single grain of pollen from Gundelia tournefortii, a plant related to the sunflower that only grows in the Near East, as seen through a microscope. This grain, taken from a Gundelia plant in Israel, has been chemically treated to remove surface waxes, lipids and internal cytoplasm, and stained red to improve contrast under the microscope. Pollen grains were removed from the Shroud of Turin in 1973 and 1978, and studied by Swiss scientist Max Frei and, more recently, by the authors of Flora of the Shroud of Turin, a book under review here; the authors believe that the shroud pollen included nearly 100 grains of Gundelia tournefortii, convincing evidence, in their view, that the shroud originated in the Near East. Our reviewer, however, cautions that the evidence is much weaker than claimed. (The scale bar in this and in following photos is 20 microns long; a micron is one millionth of a meter.)