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Natural wonder

Photographer: Power & Syred

This fierce looking creature is not a creature at all, but something that you will see or at least be aware of commonly throughout the summer. It is a scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of the pollen of a dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, magnified 5800 times and coloured. It is the pollen that is contained in the dandelion clocks that spring up in neglected lawns and throughout the countryside.

This micrograph is one of a vast range of images produced by PS Micrographs, which is a specialist science photo library specialising in SEM images of the natural world, ranging from spiders and mites, to rocks, blood cells and algae. Some of its images are at a scale where they are still recognisable; others, like this pollen, could be almost anything.

Plants are among the tools with which landscape architects work and some have a more detailed understanding than others, but few are likely to go down to this detailed level. As for the fierce appearance, it may be more appropriate than it seems at first. Wikipedia warns that ‘Dandelion pollen may cause allergic reactions when eaten, or adverse skin reactions in sensitive individuals’. And after all, the name dandelion does derive from the French for ‘lion’s tooth’.

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