A sight to see(d)

I conducted this project as part of Professor Pringle’s EEB321 class at Princeton University.

When I was a kid, one of my favorite parts of nature was the interactive aspects of it. I loved helicopter seeds in particular because you can watch them spin when you drop them, and they were interesting to take apart. After looking around a bit, I found a helicopter seed and immediately got excited to see how the veins of the seed would look underneath the foldscope- and I was not disappointed! As you can see, the seed has a fascinating vein structure within the leaf. The veins are thicker, and you cannot see through them, but in between the veins there is a paper-like quality to the seed, and you can see the light shining through it. The thinness of the seed probably helps the seed to be carried in the air, with a greater surface area and low weight. Additionally, the veins are not of equal thickness and there seem to be some that are more prominent than others. I would be curious to know why this is the case. I am also curious about whether the vein structure is composed in a way that is better for the dispersal mechanism by improving the seed’s ability to ‘fly’, or whether the veins are simply used for water transport when the seed is still on the tree.

The intricate structure of the seed is interesting to look at under the microscope, particularly when thinking about it in the context of how the seed disperses. I hope you found this interesting like I did!

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