The folks here at Eastfield College who keep our campus beautiful have given us a real Spring treat. They planted thousands of tulip bulbs which are coming into full bloom. (There are also lots of white daffodils.) I want to make sure everyone at the college knows where they are so they have a chance to see them. See the campus map below, but don't wait - they won't last for long.
|Red arrows indicate location of bulb beds.|
I went out to take some pictures, but also to bring a flower back to the lab for imaging. Once I saw them I just couldn't bring myself to pick a flower, so instead I reached in and removed a single anther - the pollen-producing structure of the flower.
|The anther of a tulip. At first glance they appear black, but on the dissecting microscope you can see the multicolored pollen grains.|
|Here is a close-up of the pollen of the tulip.|
Now lets look at pollen using the scanning electron microscope.
|This is a cross-section of the anther. It is a little flattened by the cut with a razor blade, but you can clearly see the pollen grains on its surface. [25x]|
|This is a closer look at the center of the structure shown in the image above. I don't know what the sac-like structures in the image are, but their shape was too interesting to not show. [200x]|
These are some pollen grains from the tulip. The are pretty crushed down from the high vacuum of the microscope. Note the texture on the surface of the pollen grain. [370x]
|This pollen grain is the target for the next image. It is about 75 microns long. That is 75/1,000,000ths of a meter. [800x]|
|A close-up of the surface of a single tulip pollen grain magnified 15,000 times. To give you some sense of scale, an E. coli bacterium is about 3 microns long. The scale bar in this image is 2 microns.|