Plant Sex.
November 24, 2009 7:41 AM   Subscribe

Pollen, pollen everywhere. The article isn't bad, but it's the photo gallery that is truly fascinating.
posted by eleyna (18 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This one, of artfully arranged pollen, makes me smile. I also appreciate that many of the photos have a touch of sexiness about them. Oooh lalala nature.
posted by iamkimiam at 7:46 AM on November 24, 2009

As an allergy sufferer, I can only marvel that so much beauty produces so much misery.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:55 AM on November 24, 2009

posted by vronsky at 8:00 AM on November 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


not safe for wheezers.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:03 AM on November 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

[Fixed the link.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:05 AM on November 24, 2009



Note: IANAB(otanist)
posted by elmer benson at 8:28 AM on November 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you're looking for artfully arranged pollen, Wolfgang Laib is your man: 1, 2, 3, etc.
posted by googly at 8:49 AM on November 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

AHHH GET IT AWAY. I can't breathe this morning as it is.
posted by eyeballkid at 8:57 AM on November 24, 2009

Nicely timed post, this being the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of The Species. These photographs fill me with an almost religious sense of awe. I guess I would have to call Charlie D. a saint.
posted by kozad at 8:57 AM on November 24, 2009

They're gorgeous!
posted by obol at 8:59 AM on November 24, 2009

What Joe Beese said. As an asthmatic, it's perversely fascinating to know that I could potentially be killed by something so artful and ethereal.
posted by blucevalo at 9:06 AM on November 24, 2009

Beautiful photos.

My first experience with pollen was also an aesthetic, almost artistic experience. I was about 10. It was a chilly Saturday afternoon, I was bored, and none of the neighborhood kids were around. After toeing the dirt for a while, I decided to busy myself building a 'fort' in one of the big cedar trees in the backyard. (These were Texas scrub cedars -- they don't grow up, so much as they grow out. You don't build a fort on them, you build one in them.)

I set up a folding chair inside my tree fort and was going back to the garage for a bucket or something (you know, to use as a table) when I realized that brushing up against the branches of the tree made a little yellow puff of smoke appear. So I took a step back and tentatively rattled the branch. More yellow smoke! I shook the tree harder and WHOA, there was this beautiful, ethereal cloud of yellow fairy dust surrounding me! The world had gone golden and suddenly, Saturday wasn't so boring anymore! I ran from tree to tree, ferociously shaking and caressing the branches until they would no longer give up their powdery gold.

And then, dusk came and it was time to go in for dinner and goddamn, I was sick as a dog for about three or four days.

They teach you about rattlesnakes, growing up in Texas. But they never said a damn thing about those cedar trees.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:59 AM on November 24, 2009 [5 favorites]

Eat food, as much as you damn well please, mostly flowers. - Pollen
posted by srboisvert at 10:31 AM on November 24, 2009

Beautifully surreal reality.
posted by bearwife at 10:46 AM on November 24, 2009

mudpuppie, yeah, the cedars are a menace to many Texans, though thankfully not to me. Many of my friends learned about pollen by playing with those little pink flowers (cowslips?) with yellow centers and dusting each other's chins.

Texas is the pollen capital of the US, ya'll. Or so I have been told, though I've never seen an actual cite for that. Any other state want to dispute?
posted by emjaybee at 11:27 AM on November 24, 2009

Tiny intricate minions of Satan.
posted by Scattercat at 4:35 PM on November 24, 2009

Note that these are basically hand-colored electron microscope pictures. I *thought* the pollen grains were too small to see that well with an optical microscope and this confirms they're highly manipulated.

I think they're gorgeous and it would be hard to see some of the details without extra contrast added with color, but the grains aren't the colors depicted. Some of the features are smaller than the wavelength of visible light (light DVD pits), so they *can't* have color.
posted by morganw at 7:03 PM on November 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

I was unsure of the limit of optical microscopy, so I've finally looked it up & it's about 200 nanometers.

The enhanced, but still optical, techniques involve things like staining, ultraviolet light or holograms so aren't going to give you a direct representation of color.

"Forget-me-not grains are among the tiniest known, each just five one-thousandths of a millimeter across."

so 5 micrometers or 5000 nanometers. Resolvable, but boring. Biological samples aren't colorful or even contrasty and the depth of field is shit.
posted by morganw at 9:52 AM on December 1, 2009

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