Saturday, May 16, 2009

Jewels and Sausages

Over at Wight Rambler Rambling Rob recently reported finding spiderwort Tradescantia growing wild, as a garden escape. This plant has interesting flowers, with stamens covered in a forest of hairs so that the centre of the bloom vaguely resembles a spider - if you’ve got a vivid imagination. Under the microscope the hairs have a beauty all of their own, composed of chains of cells that are almost spherical at the tips of the hairs, resembling a string of jewels (second photo down x100). Further down the hair, towards the base, they look more like a string of blue sausages (third photo down x100). These cells have always been favourite subjects for microscopists because you can easily see the cell contents, including the nucleus that contains the DNA which controls the cell and the cytoplasm that streams around inside the cell, which is full of blue anthocyanin pigment (bottom photo x400)


  1. What beauty! The colours are stunning. It's amazing how differently things appear under the lens.

  2. Hi Toffeeapple, No synthetic dyes can ever equal the purity and vibrancy of natural pigments and their interactions with light, I think.

  3. I agree wholeheartedly and as a watercolourist I know what synthetics lack.

    I used to have that plant in my garden but it must have died off since I haven't seen it in a while.


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