We have hair, they have things bizarre…

Animals aren’t unique when it comes to having things growing on their skin. Plants have an even bizarre set of things growing on their skin too, some of which secrete chemicals that are secondary metabolites. Foldscoping these reveal things about what ‘hair’ they have!

Some of the explorations as follows :

1. Cucurbita maxima :

A transverse section of petiole reveals presence if several bristles, glandular and non-glandular trichomes…

Some images not from a foldscope, at magnifications 40x and 200x

How about directly observing leaves in a foldscope using a very bright source of light? (warning : large number of beautiful images incoming!)

Now I very well know why my hand felt numb when for the first time I held the leaf in my hand. But, what did these glands secrete?

2. Murraya koenigii (known as Curry leaves commonly) :

The plant bears pinnately compound leaves, what has the rachis got to offer?


3. Cynodon dactylon (or the grass that people usually stamp on when they walk…) :

I did not have any other place to store the grass leaf that I had collected, where I kept it was on a bottle filled with water. The leaf was partially immersed in water. I forgot about it, and a few days later noticed roots growing out of it.

Do you notice some hair-like things growing from the region where the root originated at the base of leaf?  Thinking what purpose these serve…


4. Ocimum sanctum (or the holy basil or Tulsi) : 

The petiole is quite hairy. This is how they’d look like through a foldscope.

An image of the leaf that is worthy of sharing on halloween.

Tulsi plants have quite a characteristic aroma, right? This thing here is most likely responsible for that…


5. Last but not the least, one of the bizarre forms of hair – Thespesia populnea : 

The petiole of the leaf is covered with brown dust-like particles. These look pretty interesting microscopically just like a flower. Scrape these off, put them in a drop of water and observe.

These are also present on the surface of leaf, attached to veins and veinlets.

And here I introduce a way to get better contrasted, beautiful images. Just use some software filters present in mobile camera, like the Negative filter.

(Apologies for making it too long a post…)


Ronak Hati, Ramnarain Ruia Autonomous College.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. laksiyer says:

    @Ronak. Fantastic post. I wanted to make a database of trichome shapes at some point (https://microcosmos.foldscope.com/?p=7905). Some of them are multi-pronged with unusual heads too. Always love peltate trichomes. I am wondering if we could use some indicators to show secreted juices. A simple pH indicator might be good enough I suspect. Love the idea of negative color. They look fabulous. One other interesting project is to see trichome development.. I am sure it is possible to do.

    1. Ronak Hati says:

      One has to take a young leaf while observing trichome development or would mature leaves work?

  2. Manu Prakash says:

    Contributing to @Laks comment on live “development of two homes” – here is a techniques post I had made some time ago on in-Situ imaging of plant leaves. This would be fantastic since the plants and leaves are attached and healthy while imaging.

    You should try this idea Ronak.. it has a lot of value for developmental biology since the shape diversity in trichome is insane.

    Needless to say, you are incredibly creative with your hands and your posts. Keep exploring.

    We should each try the live trichome imaging idea – and we can also do some physical modeling to see how physical forces play a role in trichome development.


    1. Ronak Hati says:

      Using the epi-illumination hack by Laks sir would give amazing images for a time-lapse.

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