Monday, June 18, 2012

Lavender leaf

Annie Cavanagh

These may look like tomatoes ripening on the vine but scale is misleading. This scanning electron micrograph shows a lavender leaf (Lavandula) that is only 200 microns across, roughly a 50th of a centimetre. Lavender is native to much of Africa, Asia and Europe and is a favourite ornamental plant in Britain. It produces an oil that has a distinctive sweetness and is used in balms, salves, perfumes, cosmetics and topical applications. It is also claimed that it can be used to aid sleep and to alleviate anxiety. The oily secrets of lavender are revealed in this striking image which shows the surface of a leaf covered with fine hair-like outgrowths made from specialised epidermal cells called non-glandular trichomes. These protect the plant against pests and reduce evaporation from the leaf. Glandular trichomes are also present, containing the oil produced by the plant

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