I, Aman Arjel of SD College, Chandigarh could never imagine, sample collection for foldscoping could lead me to a summer vacation project on fibers of biological origin. It all happened by chance. Thanks to my buddy Kanwar Pal Singh who noticed Calotropis fruit – a follicle (which our Botany teacher told) and chose to see it through a foldscope.
Calotropis procera, commonly called AK is a weed of North India. On plucking its parts, a milky latex is oozed. On removing the outer green covering, we noticed a network-like structure, which was mounted on a slide using cellotape and foldscoped. It appeared like a membranous structure with vein-like demarcations on it. We removed it to see scale-like structures as gills of a fish. Our teacher told us these were its seeds. On piercing through the seeds we saw tufts of shiny hair which through a foldscope appeared glistening fibers.
Opened fruit on peeling the showed rough coarse mesh
Mesh as seen through a foldscope
Seeds removed to see tufts of silky fibres
Fibres of Calotropis fruit as viewed with foldscope
I surfed through the literature and came across an important finding, which changed my fun with foldscopy into a meaningful project. These fibres from fruit of Calotropis procera are used as a fibre in African drylands.
Nature is great. A milk-weed of medicinal importance can be more than that – a cash crop for livelihood. I was reminded of my late grandmother –“in nature nothing is waste”.
Thanks Manu the great foldscope man