(Second) Close-up View of an
Anemone coronaria 'Mona Lisa'
by Brian Johnston (Canada)
One of the first plants to become
available in spring at my nearest garden-centre, is the hybrid Anemone coronaria ‘Mona Lisa’.
This year, the flowers displayed an amazing variety of colours, and I
was tempted to photograph the striking blooms once again. Since
writing the earlier
Micscape article, my macro-photographic equipment has changed (see
end of article), and I was eager to test the new camera and lenses.
A member of the Buttercup, or Ranunculaceae family, the Anemone is
native to the Mediterranean and Central Asian regions. Depending
on where you live, it may be called Anemone, Windflower, or Poppy
Anemone. Members of this species have been in cultivation since
the sixteenth century, certain proof of their longstanding
popularity. Cultivars of the species are divided into two groups,
those with one whorl of petals in a flower, called the ‘de Caen’ group, and those with
multiple whorls, called the ‘St. Brigid’
group. The flowers photographed in this article are all examples
of the ‘de Caen’ type.
Anemone blooms display spectacular
variation in colour and pattern, several of which can be seen in
the first image in the article, and the one below. One of the
distinguishing characteristics of the species is the involucre of three leaflets below
each flower. (An involucre is defined as a whorl of bracts or modified
leaves.) This involucre is clearly visible beneath the taller
flower in the following image. The particular cultivar studied
here was developed to have strong, sturdy stems in order that it might
be used as a long-lasting cut flower.
The two images that follow
show the main characteristics of anemone flowers. Many other
plant species possess a whorl of green sepals (modified petal-like
leaves) immediately beneath the petals. Anemone’s sepals are
indistinguishable from its petals, and so both sepals and petals in
this species are more properly referred to as tepals. At the centre of
each flower is a dark dome formed by the very large number of
pistils. Surrounding this dome are multiple rings of stamens
which, according to some, look like a crown surrounding the domed
head. The Latin name for the species, ‘coronaria’, refers to the ‘crown’
formed by these rings.
First, let’s look at the red and
white flower. Notice that its colour pattern is not perfectly
symmetrical. It is interesting that the white ring beneath the
crown of stamens increases their colour contrast.
A higher magnification reveals that
the filaments are bright red in colour. As we will see, the
filament colour is different in each of the four variations studied in
As we move closer, the detail on
the surface of an anther becomes easier to see. Each anther is
roughly oval in shape, and is divided into two lobes by a central
Obtaining sharp, detailed images of
these anthers is a challenge. Each is about two millimetres in
length, and the slightest movement caused by vibration of the building,
or by the photographer’s breath, induces blur producing motion.
(There was therefore, much breath-holding during the anther
macro-photography! Even though my floor is concrete, the sturdy
table on which the plants were placed would vibrate microscopically
unless one of its edges was firmly in contact with wall.
Macro-photography in the city, with cars and trucks moving constantly
nearby, is a problem that takes constant trial and error to alleviate.)
Notice the strange, and unusual
pattern of ridges on each of the anther’s lobes. These ridges
have a reflective surface texture, and this accounts for their shiny
A close-up of the mound of pistils
can be seen below. There are hundreds of individual deep purple
pistils, with lighter coloured tips, in the mound. If you look
carefully, the light brown hairs that will become part of the achenes (seeds) after fertilization,
are just visible at the base of the central pistils.
The second flower to be studied is
white in colour, and for this cultivar we will take a look at the
blooming process. Below, you can see the ring of three
parsley-like, divided leaves that form the flower’s involucre. At
this stage the outer tepals are still tinged with green.
Several days later, the bud has
opened to reveal its final colouration. Notice in the image on
the left, that the petals have not fully moved back into their final,
shallow, cup-like orientation.
Notice below that immature anthers,
(near the central mound of pistils), do not have the deep purple colour
of the mature variety. At an intermediate stage, they display a
light blue colour. In this flower the supporting filaments are
In the macro-photographs below, I
deliberately focused on the flower’s pistils. What a contrast in
colour when compared to the previous flower. Here the bright blue
pistils are highlighted against a bright yellow background!
Although the immature,
beige-coloured anthers have the same ridged pattern as their older
siblings, the pattern is more difficult to see.
The intermediate stage anthers
shown below have a colour that matches the pistils in the nearby
central mound. Keen observers will have noticed that so far, none
of the anthers show the pollen that it is their function to
The next flower to be studied
doesn’t have the brilliant colouration of the red and white one, but it
does possess an elegant pastel purple and white shading. Here the
central dome is deep purple, and the filaments are deep pink.
Each flower produced by this
particular plant must possess an error in its DNA which results in one
of its tepals being malformed, and much smaller than normal.
Blooms that opened weeks later than the one shown in the sequence
below, displayed exactly the same malformation.
Notice the dense packing of the
deep purple pistils in the mound shown below.
I mentioned earlier that the
anthers seen so far have not shown any evidence of pollen
formation. This is due to the fact that the two lobes of each
anther are covered by thin, ridged membranes that protect the
developing pollen grains. At a later stage, (seen below), these
membranes begin to disintegrate, revealing the deep purple pollen
grains stored beneath. In the anther shown on the right, in the
right hand image below, only the membrane on the left lobe has
disintegrated. In the same image, the anther to the left of the
first has both membranes missing.
The sequence below shows the
flower’s mound of pistils. As in the previous bloom, hints of
yellow can be seen beneath individual pistils in the last two images.
Here is the most colourful
of the group of Anemone cultivars. Its intensely purple colour is
mirrored in the shade of its anthers and filaments.
A view of a section of the flower’s
involucre follows. Notice the tiny white hairs that grow along
its prominent veins.
Regular readers will know that I
normally include photomicrographs of flower structures as part of my
‘Close-up View’ articles. In this case, I did not do so since
they would be similar to those in the earlier
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.
An 8 megapixel Canon 20D 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 May
2010 edition of Micscape.
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