Mystery Monday: What is this? Not another alien from the movie Prometheus in all its 3D
gory glory. It’s a scanning EM image of the under surface of a lavender leaf at a scale of 1/50th of a centimeter.
The globules are lavender oil, secreted from spiny glands known as trichomes. The spines also protect the leaf against pests and reduce water loss. The eye-like or elliptical structures with a narrow slit are the stomata or breathing pores.
The oil of Lavandula is used in perfumes, aromatherapy and to counter anxiety. Oddly, it also mimics female hormones. As such, use of lavender (and tea tree) oil is suspected to promote breast development in both boys and girls who are particularly susceptible to androgenic and estrogenic compounds.
Photo: Annie Cavanagh; Wellcome Images http://goo.gl/wM1M3