Avinoam Danin

Purple and green spikes of Gundelia tournefortii stand out in a field of bright yellow Chrysanthemum coronarium in Israel’s northern Negev. The authors of Flora of the Shroud of Turin claim that pollen from flowers such as these remained embedded in the shroud for hundreds of years and that this pollen points to a Near Eastern origin. But Vaughn Bryant, a palynologist and the author of the accompanying review, believes that there is a crucial flaw in the pollen testing conducted on the shroud: Because of the deteriorated condition of the sticky tape samples, Bryant writes, and because many plants in the same family produce similar-looking pollen, it is not possible to identify (as the authors of Flora claim they have) Gundelia tournefortii and other pollen species using only a light microscope.