Microscopy

A whole           in a drop.

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Top left : Crocosmia Lucifer.

 

Top right :  Blue Hydrangea.

 

Bottom right : Wild Buttercup.

 

Flowers exist in a huge range of colours, shapes and sizes, but what makes one flower look and feel like velvet, another glisten as though it’s cover in dew and another shine likes it’s been polished?  Under the microscope at 200x magnification, the surface detail of the petals can be seen. The small mounds on the surface are known as Papillae and can be smooth and rounded as in Crocosmia or resemble craggy alpine peaks as in the Hydrangea. In the Buttercup the Papillae are very small and link together like jigsaw pieces, giving a very smooth and therefore shiny finish.

 

The smooth, rounded and transparent Papillae of Crocosmia act like microscopic spheres that are used in reflective safety clothing and have a similar effect, while the rough surface of the Hydrangea Papillae tend absorb light giving a deep rich colour, whatever the angle of the light. Any flowers with a velvety look are likely to have the striking alpine look under the microscope, Roses and Sweet Williams are other common examples.

 

 

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Petals and Papillae

Garden Exploration