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Scanning Electron Microscopy of Botany

Scanning electron microscopy is a type of charged particle microscopy and produces images in grayscale. As such, the images are 'digitally painted' as realistically as possible. Some images are montages, meaning that they comprise of two or more images which have been seamlessly blended together. Sometimes scanlines occur in the images which can be seen as faint black lines. These are a result of where electronic charge (electrons) accumulates at various regions on the subject which can deflect the electron beam off course. For suggestions or custom imagery you can contact me through the contact form.

Asplenium trichomanes is a small fern in the spleenwort genus Asplenium. It is a widespread and common species, occurring almost worldwide in a variety of rocky habitats. It can be commonly seen growing in crevices in stone walls. It is commonly known as Maidenhair Spleenwort. This is a montage of about twenty images seamlessly blended and coloured. For the framed image, please see the SEM-Process link.

This is a small fern called Asplenium trichomanes and is found worldwide in rocky habitats. This specimen was collected in Glencree, Co. Wicklow, Ireland. Ferns do not produce pollen or seeds. Their method of reproduction is by spores producing a different form of adult plant every alternative generation. This image shows the brown sori which contain the spores.

Adhered to a twig, this is a lichen called Physcia adscendens. It has long rhizines or cilia emerging from the margins of its blue/grey coloured foliose. This lichen is widespread around the world and is commonly found growing on twigs and the bark of trees, walls and concrete, often in the company of Xanthoria parietina, an indication of nitrogen rich areas. Its name ‘adscen-dens’ refers to the long rhizines that arise from the underside and curl upwards. The grey colour is due to the pigment atranorin. On close inspection, colonies of cyanobacteria (green) can be seen on the foliose surface.

A Daisy pollen grain nested among the folds of plant tissue.

The underside of an Ivy leaf is covered with stomata (the pores through which the leaf absorb carbon dioxide and water and expel oxygen) and trichomes (yellow structure).

On the underside of an Asplenium trichomanes leaf we can see the pouches in which the sori emerge from. The sori contain spores and when conditions are ripe, they explode, releasing the spores into the air.

The surface of a leaf of lavender (Lavandula). The tree-like structures are large multi-cellular trichomes (from the Greek meaning hairs). Trichomes often provide a furry or downey feel to a plant. Their functions are diverse. For example, they help develop a microclimate around the leaf by trapping or slowing down the movement of water molecules as they pass over the leaf surface or leave the plant through the leaf pores or stomata. Water and oxygen are the waste products of photosynthesis and they leave the plant through the stoma on the leaf, seen here as tiny slit-like structures. The circular dome-like structures release oil from oil glands in the leaf. Touching the lavendar leaf will rupture these glands, releasing the oil.

A cluster of Dandelion pollen grains on a filament.

A lone Dandelion pollen grain adhered to a filament. What are the yellow spring like structures?

Dandelion pollen grains adhered to a filament.

Dandelion pollen grains adhered to a stigma.

Dandelion pollen grains adhered to the barbs of a seed.

Dandelion pollen grains adhered to a stigma.

Dandelion pollen grains adhered to a stigma.

Dandelion pollen grains adhered to a stigma.

The mountainous terrain of a Dandelion pollen grain.

The mountainous terrain of a Dandelion pollen grain.

California Poppy pollen grains.

A cluster of California Poppy pollen grains.

A lone California Poppy pollen grain adhered to a petal of Poppy flower.

California Poppy pollen grains adhered to a petal of Poppy flower.

Pollen grains of Geranium robertianum, commonly known as Herb Robert.

This is a montage of a Geranium robertianum flower, commonly known as Herb Robert. The montage comprises of about 100 individual images, seamlessly blended together.

This is a montage of the central region of aGeranium robertianum flower, commonly known as Herb Robert. The montage comprises of about 50 individual images, seamlessly blended together.

A forest of hairs protrude from the stem of a Forget-Me-Not flower.

A forest of hairs protrude from the petals of a Forget-Me-Not flower.

The anthers of a Hibiscus flower are covered with spikey pollen grains. Pollen tubes can be seen beginning to emerge from the grains. These pollen are from the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Hibiscus is known colloquially as Chinese hibiscus, China rose, Hawaiian hibiscus, rose mallow and shoeblackplant. It is a species of tropical hibiscus, a flowering plant in the Hibisceae tribe of the family Malvaceae, native to East Asia. Hibiscus is Malaysia's national flower where it's locally known as the Bunga Raya.

The anthers of a Hibiscus flower are covered with spikey pollen grains. Pollen tubes can be seen beginning to emerge from the grains. These pollen are from the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Hibiscus is known colloquially as Chinese hibiscus, China rose, Hawaiian hibiscus, rose mallow and shoeblackplant. It is a species of tropical hibiscus, a flowering plant in the Hibisceae tribe of the family Malvaceae, native to East Asia. Hibiscus is Malaysia's national flower where it's locally known as the Bunga Raya.

St. Johnswort pollen grain adhered to a petal of a flower of its kind.

St. Johnswort pollen grains adhered to a petal of a flower of its kind.

A Yarrow pollen grain rests on the surface of the flowers peduncle. Stomata are the pore like structures. The pore of the stoma is surrounded by the gaurd cells, which deflate/inflate to open or close the stoma, respectively.

A spikey Yarrow pollen grain rests on the surface of the flowers peduncle.

A cluster of spikey Yarrow pollen grains rest on the surface of the flowers peduncle. with stoma here and there.

Pollen grains of the Yarrow flower among the hairs on the flowers peduncle.

Growing like yellow blisters on sea shore rocks, lichens first appeared on Earth about 400 million years ago. The Xanthoria parientina is primarily found on southern facing surfaces such as on walls, rocks, trees and twigs.

Close up view of the Physcia adscendens foliose and cilia showing crystals.

Close up view of the Physcia adscendens foliose and cilia.

Close up view of the Xanthoria parietina foliose and apothecia. The apothecia are the cup like structures and are where the spores emerge from.

Close up view of the Xanthoria parietina foliose and apothecia. The apothecia are the cup like structures and are where the spores emerge from.

Close up view of the Xanthoria parietina foliose and apothecia. The apothecia are the cup like structures and are where the spores emerge from.

A close up view inside an apothecia of Xanthoria parietina showing algal cells, coloured green.

Xanthoria elegans

Xanthoria elegans

Xanthoria parietina

Xanthoria parietina

Xanthoria candelaria

Cross-section of a Xanthoria parietina lichen. A lichen is a symbiotic affair between an algae and a fungus. The organism is comprised of a meshwork of fungal hyphae which transpore nutrients around the complex and provide a protective web for alga cells. The alga cells in turn provide the fungus with food. The algal cells are seen coloured green.

An Xanthoria parietina lichen encapsulates a small twig.

Cross-section of a Xanthoria parietina lichen. A lichen is a symbiotic affair between an algae and a fungus. The organism is comprised of a meshwork of fungal hyphae which transpore nutrients around the complex and provide a protective web for alga cells. The alga cells in turn provide the fungus with food. The algal cells are seen coloured green.

Xanthoria parietina lichen encapsulating a twig. A lichen is a symbiotic affair between a fungus and an alga. Usually found growing on trees, this is a very common lichen in Ireland & Great Britan and is happy to grow on a wide variety of substrates. The orange colour is produced by a substance called parietin. The small orange fruit bodies seen on the lichen are the reproductive cups called apothecia. The orange areas are the tips of the asci or sacs that contain the spores.

An Xanthoria parietina lichen encapsulates a small twig. The lichen is itself smoothered in cyanobacteria, seen coloured green.

Xanthoria parietina when on north facing substrates transforms into a green colour due to insufficient sunlight incident on the lichen. As a result the pigment responsible for the yellow colour in the lichen breaks down. This can be useful by hikers for example in finding which direction is roughly north.

Xanthoria parietina lichen encapsulating a twig. A lichen is a symbiotic affair between a fungus and an alga. Usually found growing on trees, this is a very common lichen in Ireland & Great Britan and is happy to grow on a wide variety of substrates. The orange colour is produced by a substance called parietin. The small orange fruit bodies seen on the lichen are the reproductive cups called apothecia. The orange areas are the tips of the asci or sacs that contain the spores. The yellow/green foliose is an indication that the lichen receives an insufficient amount of sunlight and is sometimes used by hikers to determine the cardinal points.

This twig is encapsulated by three different lichens, namely Xanthoria parietina (yellow), (green with black apothecia) and Physcia adcendens (blue/grey). Finding these lichens in the company of one another suggests that the tree was growing in a nitrogen rich location.

A montage image of a leaf from a Buddleia tree. Buddleja, or Buddleia, commonly known as the butterfly bush, is a genus comprising over 140 species of flowering plants endemic to Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

A collection of dopamine crystals.

A Journey into Microspace. Here we see the proboscis of a butterfly and its compound eye.

Exploring other worlds. A close up view of a butterflies proboscis (mouth piece). The yellow structures are taste sensing structures while the orange spikey spheres are pollen grains.

Photonic crystal wing scales on a Butterfly wing (false coloured to exhibit iridescence). Magnification x600.

Photonic crystal wing scales on a Butterfly wing (false coloured to exhibit iridescence). It is thought that the irregular nano-nippled terrain on the wing surface plays a vital role in omni-directional anti-reflection properties of the wing, important for butterfly survival.

Magnified 2,000 times, this is an image of a forest of photonic crystal structures on the thorax of a butterfly.

It is thought that the irregular nano-nippled terrain on the wing surface plays a vital role in omni-directional anti-reflection properties of the wing, important for butterfly survival.

A reasonably low magnification image of the photonic crystal scales on a Moth wing.

A reasonably low magnification image of the photonic crystal scales on a Moth wing.

Magnified 900 times, this is the alien landscape of a Moth's antenna. The large structures growing from the sockets are photonic hairs and scales which are actually crystals. Their diffractive structures produce striking colours to be observed under appropriate lighting conditions.

Magnified 4,000 times, this is the alien landscape of a Moth's antenna. The large structures growing from the sockets are photonic hairs and scales which are actually crystals. Their diffractive structures produce striking colours to be observed under appropriate lighting conditions.

Magnified 1,500 times, this is the alien landscape of a Moth's antenna. The large structures growing from the sockets are photonic crystals which produce striking colours as a result of their diffractive structures.

A relatively low magnified view of the scales on a butterflie's wing. Notice how the scales grow from sockets on the wing.

A relatively high magnified view of the scales on a butterflie's wing. Notice how the scales grow from sockets on the wing.

A relatively low magnified view of the scales on a butterflie's wing. Notice how the scales grow from sockets on the wing.

Close up view of the intricate diffractive details in a Papilio butterfly photonic crystal wing scale. The scale rests on the surface of the Butterfly's eye. The hexagonal patterns are the Omatids that make up the butterflie's eye. The Papilio is a genus in the Swallowtail family of butterflies called Papilionidae. The word Papilio is Latin for butterfly.

Close up view of the intricate diffractive details in a Papilio butterfly photonic crystal wing scale. The scale rests on the surface of the Butterfly's eye. The Papilio is a genus in the Swallowtail family of butterflies called Papilionidae. The word Papilio is Latin for butterfly.

Close up view of the elaborate and intricate details in a Papilio butterfly photonic crystal wing scale. The scale rests on the surface of the Butterfly's eye. The Papilio is a genus in the Swallowtail family of butterflies called Papilionidae. The word Papilio is Latin for butterfly.

High magnification view of the omatids which make up a butterflie's eye. Notice how the omatids are comprised of even smaller elements. Magnification here is 5,000 times.

Butterfly scales. Different structures give rise to different colours scattered from the scales.

Closeup view of a butterfly wing scales. Notice that they grow from sockets on the wing. Different kinds of scales result in different colours reflected/scattered from the wing, to create striking patterns on the wing.

Closeup view of a butterfly wing scale. Notice that they grow from sockets on the wing. At this level, we can begin to see that the scale is made up of even finer structures.

On closer inspection, we can see that the microscopic scales on this butterflies wing are highly sculpted labrynths of ridges and Voronoi cells. These scales are termed photonic crystals in physics. Photonic crystals are comprised of a periodic array of nanostructures which interact with light in such a way as to control its properties.

Various insects exhibit iridescence in their scales. These scales can be photonic crystals, diffraction gratings or pigmented. The scales were 'digitally coloured' to reflect the two different structural types seen here.

Looking down on the thorax on the a butterfly.

A photonic crystal scale rests on the surface of a butterflies wing. Notice the sockets from which the scales plug into, or grow from.

This is an Orange-Tip butterfly egg laid on the peduncle of a Cuckoo flower.

Various unidentified spores in a lichen apothecia.

Lichen collected from a Pine tree from Glencree, Co. Wicklow.

Fern leaf with pollen grains. This fern was collected from the Orchid house at the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, Dublin.

The rim of the Scarlet Pimpernel petal.

Omatids and sensory hairs of a Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) that make up it's eye.

A patch of photonic crystals on a weevil from Indonesia.