Friday, January 25, 2008

Asteracaea



Photo


I truly wish there were a way to take a photograph of the things we see with our Eyeclops.

The Eyeclops is a very cool toy we got for Christmas. It was a very good investment, as it has fired the kids' love for the botany we've been studying together. It is 200x microscope that plugs into the TV, so we can all view together what is magnified.

Some friends brought me a beautiful plant for my birthday, and it was obvious to all of us that it was in the Asteracaea family. Asters (Daisies, Sunflowers etc.) are composite flowers, and what we think of as their "center" is actually a disk covered in a multitude of tiny little flowers. A flower, of course, is defined sexually: Having the carpal, stamen, pollen, petals and nectar for reproduction...all the parts doing what they should.

So the flowers in the Asteracaea family are arranged on a disk, and are generally very very small. Around the outer edge of the disk are what are called "ray flowers" which to the naked eye look like petals.

But there is more than meets the naked eye. Each ray flower also possesses its own stamen, etc.

These particular Asters have greenish centers with hot pink "petals".

Unless you look at them up close.

At 200x magnification we see the following: A field of closely packed light bluish purple flowers. Yes, purple! Each has darker purple stamen, anthers, and a greenish carpal, and a profusion of bright yellow pollen. Blue plus yellow makes green. That is why the center looks greenish.

Around the edge, one can observe the ray flower: more stamen and anthers, but these are the same color as the "petals", a hot pink, and are edged only on one side by the petals, arranged in a circle around the center disk.

Amazing. Absolutely amazing!

And all of this beauty is too small for the eye to see. Each of these collections of flowers are less than an inch in diameter. Each disk perhaps a centimeter or less in diameter. And a profusion of these live on the little potted bush. And each composite flower contains hundreds and hundreds of these tiny gorgeous purple flowers.

Each tiny purple flower has five petals. These, along with the branched veining on the Aster's leaf shows us that this plant belongs in the dicotelydon group of the angiosperms. (Angiosperms are flowering plants, and dicot refers to the shape of its seed when it sprouts.)

"O Lord, how many are Thy works! In wisdom hast Thou made them all. The earth is full of Thy creations..."

1 comment:

Elevation Perception said...

This is very fascinating. Not to mention, absolutely beautiful. Thanks for that lesson :)