22 July 2008

Who Knew Botany was This Interesting?

This week, I've been looking at the fruits of my labor. Literally. Abronia have fruits, called anthocarps, which contain the seed. It's not a fleshy fruit, more like the pod of a legume like an acacia. Each fruit contains a single seed, although twins aren't unheard of.

They are interesting because even species that grow in very close proximity, and possibly hybridize have very different anthocarps. The three pictured here are A. latifolia x A. maritima hybrid, A. maratima, and A. latifolia. The hybrid anthocarp is larger by half than either species from which it is derived. Hybrid vigor, I suppose.

I've been photographing them and looking at them under the light microscope, and I have found that all are very hairy. Almost all the hairs are composed of three cells, and the hairs are tipped by a flat-topped disc. The hairs seem to entrap the sand. Some species have lots of hair, others have less. Some are very sticky, others less so. I believe the hairs themselves exude the viscous exudate that causes everything to cling to the anthocarp. I hope to get better microscopy photos so that I can really show the detail in this genus. It's very interesting nonetheless...at least to me.

1 comment:

  1. That's really cool. Botany is way interesting. Thanks for sharing!