Close-up View of the
by Brian Johnston (Canada)
The Japanese Toad-Lily is also known as
the Hairy Toad-Lily, or Speckled Toad-Lily. Native to Japan, it
was formerly named Tricyrtis japonica.
The modern scientific name, Tricyrtis
hirta ‘Miyazaki’, refers to the Miyazaki Agricultural Station
associated with Miyazaki University in Japan. Like other
Toad-Lilies, it blooms late in the summer or early fall, and continues
to bloom until a hard frost occurs. The plant prefers part, to full
shade, and this makes it useful for gardeners with an abundance of
trees on their property.
Although the flower structure is
identical to the Toad-Lily described in an earlier
article, the plant’s colouration is dramatically
different. Its leaves are light green, or yellow green, and the
flowers are much lighter, resulting in a completely different
appearance, not only close-up, but also from a distance. The
stems initially grow upright to about 50 centimetres, but eventually,
the weight of the blooming flowers causes them to arch gracefully in
hirta ‘Miyazaki’ frequently hybridizes with other cultivars
growing in close proximity, producing blooms with unpredicable patterns
and colourations. The resulting plants are called “Miyazaki
As you can see from the first image
in the article, and the two that follow, the entire colouration of the
plant is more muted than in other Toad-Lily cultivars. The leaves
are a very light yellowish-green, and the flowers are white to pale
lilac with many randomly shaped, lavender spots.
Also noticeable is the extremely
tight spacing of leaves, buds, flowers, and seed-pods near the top of
the plant’s stem.
The arrangement of buds and flowers
on the stem is rather unusual, as can be seen in the font and back
views below. At the top of the stem, there is a tightly packed
group of blooms. As you move down the stem, there is a bud
located at the axil (point of connection) of each alternately
positioned leaf. Leaves like these that have little or no stalk,
and that curl around the stem at their base are called “clasping”.
These clasping leaves are visible
beneath the blooming flowers at the top of the stem.
A closer view shows the red base of
each leaf, and its intensely hairy surface.
The fine hairs can be seen more
clearly in the higher magnification images that follow.
Notice below, the progression in
the blooming process from bottom to top in the images.
The two flowers shown below are
almost mature. Their sepals and petals will eventually bend back until
they are almost at right-angles to the stalk that holds the flower’s
Japanese Toad-Lily’s buds are
colourful sculptural jewels, with their swollen spurs producing a
It’s easy to see why one of the
common names of the hybrid is the Hairy Toad-Lily. Even the
surface of a bud is remarkable hirsute!
Many of the fine hairs have a
microscopic droplet of liquid at their tips, leading one to suspect
that the hairs are glandular.
The image below shows the outer
sepals of the lowest bud opening to reveal the petals beneath.
If you look at the topmost flower
in each of the following images, you can see the column of red-spotted
filaments that surrounds the ovary. At the top of each filament
there is a pale beige, oval anther.
The flower’s three styles grow up
inside the column of filaments, and branch out to form three forked
structures with a stigma pad at each tip.
By removing a sepal and petal, the
column formed by the six filaments becomes easier to see. The
ovary, and the lower ends of the styles are hidden within this assembly.
The arrangement of the flower’s six
anthers is not as “neat and tidy” as it is in the hybrid studied in the
Notice the great variation in spot
size on the surface of a petal. In the image on the right,
numerous pollen grains can be seen clinging to the petal’s surface.
Most, if not all Toad-Lily hybrids
have glistening glandular structures along the edges of the styles.
The top surface of the flower’s
oval anthers matches the surface texture and colouration of the rest of
the plant. Even the supporting filaments are purple-spotted.
Here is a very high magnification
macro-photograph that shows the glandular structures covering the edges
of styles. Liquid appears to be pumped into the membranous
spheres through the stalks that support them.
One of the two stigma pads on a
forked style can be seen curving down toward the top of an anther in
the three images that follow. Notice the stubby, hair-like
protuberances that cover the stigma. These increase its surface
area, and help retain pollen grains.
A side view of an anther
shows that its lower, active surface is covered with pollen grains.
After fertilization, the flower’s
three-sectioned ovary begins to increase in size dramatically. At
first, it is partially hidden by the remnants of sepals and petals, but
these eventually fall away to reveal the light-green, seed producing
Although this hybrid is certainly
unusual, it is in my opinion, not as striking as the other Toad-Lilies
that I have seen. Its colouration makes it much more difficult to
differentiate between its structural components.
The low magnification, (to 1:1),
macro-photographs were taken using a 13 megapixel Canon 5D full frame
DSLR, using a Canon EF 180 mm 1:3.5 L Macro lens.
A 10 megapixel Canon 40D DSLR,
equipped with a specialized high magnification (1x to 5x) Canon macro
lens, the MP-E 65 mm 1:2.8, was used to take the remainder of the
A Flower Garden of
A complete graphical index of all
of my flower articles can be found here.
The Colourful World of
A complete graphical index of all
of my crystal articles can be found here.
Microscopy UK or their contributors.
Published in the
February 2010 edition of Micscape.
Please report any Web problems or
offer general comments to the Micscape
Micscape is the on-line monthly magazine
of the Microscopy UK web
site at Microscopy-UK
Onview.net Ltd, Microscopy-UK, and all contributors 1995 onwards. All
rights reserved. Main site is at www.microscopy-uk.org.uk
with full mirror at www.microscopy-uk.net .