by Brian Darnton & Wim van Egmond

Scales of Elaeagnus


Elaeagnus (Oleaster) are also commonly cultivated in our gardens. The scales are so numerous on leaves and young stems that they can be scraped off with a sharp scalpel and lightly gummed onto a slide to be mounted in Balsam. Under the polariscope opposite tufts of the scales glow in similar colours. Rotation of the stage creates a kaleidoscope like effect. These scales are almost certainly a xerophytic adaptation and on a really scorching hot day they seem to stand out from the surface of the broad leaf and create a deflective barrier against solar energy. Similar scales can be found in other plants of the Elaeagnus family like the sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) which grows near the seaside in Europe.



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Published in the December 2000 edition of Micscape Magazine.

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