Heather thrives on acidic soil
Heather, also known as common heather, Calluna vulgaris or in Swedish “Ljung” is found in heathland, moorland, and bogs. A common thread in all three of these habitats is the presence of acidic soils. Heather is a plant that is well-adapted to growth on acidic soil. It is a small shrub, less than half a meter tall. It’s an important food source for grazing animals and for insects such as moth and beetle larvae. Heather has become very popular as an ornamental garden plant, so if you like how Heather looks, you may be able to get one for your own garden! Would you like to see Heather under the microscope?
A glimpse into the woody stem
Well, here it is! We made thin slices through a heather stem in the laboratory, dyed it and put it under the microscope. For such a small shrub, the stems are quite woody! Within the woody stem you can see a variety of cell types that are commonly found in wood. The biggest, roundest cells that are white in the middle are vessels. These cells transport water throughout the stem. The dark tiny cells arranged in parallel lines are called rays. Rays are parenchyma cells used for storage and lateral transport of sugars from the bark at the outside of the stem to further inside the stem. Finally, all the other tiny light blue cells are fibres. Fibers give the stem structural support. Isn’t it amazing how even tiny shrubs like heather still have such interesting complexity once you see them under the microscope?
The Heather woody stem pattern
After having taken images from our thin stem slices under the microscope, we made pattern from them. Here you can see the repeated pattern. The original ray cells from the vascular tissue form the darker lines on the pattern, and the lighter coloured vessel cells that transport water in the plant, are the white dots. We love the golden colour that comes through around the vessel cells, it makes us think of jewels! ⠀
Pattern colour variations
We loved our heather microscopy pattern so much, that we just needed to try it in more colours! Here we
have a purple version for a softer, feminine look as well as more energetic version in yellow and red option, followed by a mossy green. Which one is your favourite?
You can currently (2020-Nov) find linen with this design at Tygverket Stockholm.