Close-up View of
The 'White' Lily & The 'Star Gazer' Hybrid Lily
Lilium candidum &
Lilium hybridum (Star Gazer)
by Brian Johnston (Canada)
The ‘White’ Lily
The large white flowers of this
spectacular plant fill an interior space with an extremely pleasant
fragrance. In Ontario, the plants are available as cut-flowers
all year long, and help to brighten the monotony of the long, cold,
Canadian winter. (As you might guess, winter is my least
This member of the lily family (Liliaceae) possesses flowers with
six petals, three in an inner ring and three in an outer ring.
The reproductive structures are spectacularly colourful, and add much
to the plant’s visual appeal. Many sources however, suggest that
the bright yellow anthers be removed when the plant’s stem is placed in
a container, as they may stain the surfaces onto which they fall.
As can be seen in the following images, the leaves are dark green and
Although the front of each petal
has some yellow colouration, the back is totally white (more correctly
– cream). There is a rod-shaped prominent vein that runs the
length of the petal.
The points of attachment of leaf to
stem (left), and flower to stem (right), are shown below.
Notice the section of leaf in the
upper portion of the image below left. Under the microscope, the
upper surface is composed of cells containing chlorophyll (in
The lower surface of the leaf is
spotted with openings (stoma)
through which gas enters the internal structure. Crescent-shaped guard cells control the size of the
opening, and therefore the amount of gas transfer. These two structures
form what is called the stomatal
If a white portion of the surface
of a petal is examined under the microscope, its cellular structure
The innermost section of each petal
has many long irregular yellow projections that dot the surface.
Photomicrographs reveal the
structure of these protuberances. Note the surface texture
visible on the pollen grain in the higher magnification image.
Towards the tip of the petal, and
along the petal’s edge, these projections are shorter and more compact.
Photomicrographs show interesting
detail in the uppermost cells of one of these stubby protuberances.
The transformation of a bud as it
reshapes to form a mature flower is shown in the two images that follow.
An unopened bud possesses a
distinctly sculptural quality that is quite appealing. Note the
wavy edges that develop at the tip of each petal as the bud begins to
open (right image).
As mentioned earlier, the
reproductive structures of the lily are colourful and large to match
the flower’s size. There are six orange-yellow anthers (male pollen producing
organs) each supported by a thin green filament.
At the centre of the ring of stamens is the single green style supporting an almost black stigma (female pollen accepting
When the flower first opens, the
anthers are parallel to their filaments. In fact, the top of the
filament fits into a groove in the bottom surface of the anther.
(This can be seen clearly in the right hand image.)
After four or five hours, the
filament slips out of the anther’s groove, and the anther moves under
the influence of gravity. Since the point of attachment of anther
to filament is an extremely thin strip of tissue, the anther wobbles
and moves into a position roughly at right angles to the
filament. This exposes a maximum surface area to any passing
insect, and promotes pollen transfer.
Note in the image at left below,
that a couple of anthers are still fixed in their parallel
position. The image on the right shows their normal position.
The surface of the anther is deeply
grooved, and coated with pollen.
Under the microscope, a pollen
grain is seen to be ellipsoidal in shape. Notice the interesting
In the ‘White’ lily, the pistil is
longer than the stamens. The style holding the almost black
appearing stigma is much sturdier than the filaments surrounding it.
The two high magnification
macro-photographs below show a side and top view of the stigma’s
surface. The top view reveals that the stigma has three thin
lobes, with pock-marked surfaces. The crevices between the lobes,
and the surfaces of the lobes are covered by a clear viscous liquid
which is extremely sticky. During the photographic process, a
microscopic filament became stuck to the stigma’s surface and several
minutes were required to pull it away from the surface with the aid of
tweezers. It is obvious that this adaptation facilitates the
retrieval of pollen from visiting insects that come in contact with the
Although the surface cells of the
stigma appear black to the naked eye, when the upper layer is removed
with a knife, and examined by transmitted light under the microscope,
the cells are red. The higher magnification photomicrographs show
pollen grains that have become trapped on the surface.
Located at the base of the pistil,
the ovary (seed producing organ) has a columnar shape composed of six
fused tubular structures.
The ‘White” Lily, sometimes
referred to as the ’Madonna’ Lily is not brilliantly coloured, but it
has an undeniable beauty. It is thought to have been in
cultivation since the Minoan Period (~1500 BC).
The ‘Star Gazer’ Hybrid
Lily Lilium hybridum (Star Gazer)
In contrast to the previous lily,
this one has spectacularly colourful petals with a pinkish-white
background and bright red foreground.
Shortly after opening, the
petals still form an open cone around the reproductive
structures. In the mature flower seen at right, the petals have
bent into a perpendicular orientation, with the tips curled back
towards the stem.
The surface colouration of a petal
is composed of red spots and diffuse red areas. (The anthers of
this old bloom have long since fallen from the tips of the filaments.)
All six orange-brown anthers are
grooved, and coated with huge amounts of pollen.
Higher magnification images of
anther and stigma can be seen below. Unlike the ‘White’ lily,
this hybrid's stigma is light green with a red fringe.
The two lily cut-flowers discussed
in this article stand out in my mind for a number of reasons. The
predominant one is that they have the record for the intensity of
fragrance. No other flowers that I have photographed have filled
the room with such a massively pleasant odour. Beauty and
fragrance together – who could ask for more?
The ‘White’ Lily photographs were
taken with an eight megapixel Canon 20D DSLR equipped with a Canon EF
100 mm f 2.8 Macro lens which focuses to 1:1. A Canon 250D
achromatic close-up lens was used to obtain higher magnifications in
The ‘Star Gazer’ Lily photographs
were taken with an eight megapixel Sony CyberShot DSC-F 828 equipped
with achromatic close-up lenses (Canon 250D, Nikon 5T, 6T, Sony
VCL-M3358, and shorter focal length achromat) used singly or in
combination. The lenses screw into the 58 mm filter threads of the
camera lens. (These produce a magnification of from 0.5X to 10X
for a 4x6 inch image.) Still higher magnifications were obtained
by using a macro coupler (which has two male threads) to attach a reversed 50 mm focal length f 1.4
Olympus SLR lens to the F 828. (The magnification here is about
14X for a 4x6 inch image.)
The photomicrographs were taken
with a Leitz SM-Pol microscope (using dark ground and phase contrast
condensers), and the Coolpix 4500.
Microscopy UK or their contributors.
Published in the
February 2008 edition of Micscape.
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