Mystery Monday: What is this?

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

#scienceeveryday  

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22 Responses to Mystery Monday: What is this?

  1. mary Zeman says:


    that is really cool

  2. Rajini Rao says:


    Wonder how those oil droplets hang on?

  3. mary Zeman says:


    some sort of surface tension?


  4. I’m going to take a magnifying glass out and look closely at my lavender plants. This is cool.

  5. Rajini Rao says:


    I guess so. You can actually see smaller globules at the tips of some spines.

  6. Rajini Rao says:


    Do report back if you see anything, Maureen Frost . But you’ll likely need a powerful microscope.

  7. james kalin says:


    scratch and sniff. 🙂


    lavendar rules.

  8. Rajini Rao says:


    Here’s another strange image of lavender from the Science Image Library: http://www.sciencephoto.com/media/30205/enlarge

  9. Rajini Rao says:


    Not that I can claim this scientifically, but breathing in the aroma does help reduce tension headaches for me, Aida Hazlan .

  10. Rajini Rao says:


    Patrick Armstrong , I was going to reassure you that the condition only affects children, but a quick look up shows that it can happen to body builders who take anabolic steroids..some of the steroids are converted to female hormones! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gynecomastia

  11. Rajini Rao says:


    Or may be just the massage 🙂

  12. Rajini Rao says:


    What sort of oil heater, Gnotic Pasta ? Is it a small table top model or plug in?

  13. Amr Malik says:


    So many eyes of Sauron!


  14. I too was wondering about my lavender plants..


  15. Its so helpful to me to have these types of structures visualized and then so expertly curated. Rajini, you have an amazing eye.

  16. Vinod Pandey says:


    Oil of Lavandula have  great use, especially those areas where no one’s want to compromise.great image result. In one sentance “simple and beautiful”.

  17. Kawthar A says:


    Additional reasons for me to like the lavender more :)) 

  18. Vinod Pandey says:


    Yes Kawthar AL ABDALLA now before using you can say thanks Lavender 🙂

  19. Vinod Pandey says:


    It’s what wikipedia says-


    Because sex hormone levels normally are low prior to puberty, young boys and girls particularly are sensitive to estrogenic and androgenic compounds. The discovery of the gynecomastia link in boys has led some researchers to suspect lavender and tea tree oils, which are present in various personal care products including shampoos and lotions, may also contribute to the increased incidence of early breast development in girls.

  20. NV NEO says:


    You got me at Prometheus ><

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