A flower easy to recognize
Poppies (genus Papaver) are instantly recognizable by their bright vibrant colours. Often we think of poppies as having bright red petals, but varieties of poppies come in nearly all colors of the rainbow – red, orange, yellow, even bluish-purple. We can identify poppies by their large broad flowers, and many stamens (male flower parts that hold the pollen) surrounding the pistil. Known for producing a wide variety of compounds called alkaloids, poppies are the source of the narcotic drugs morphine and codeine. The flowers can produce thousands of tiny seeds within large round capsules and are delicious in desserts and many types of baked goods.⠀
Seed capsules can be challenging material for microscopy
We got a poppy capsule and some flowers from our collaborator Ulrika from Bosse och Ester. We tried to make thin slices from the capsule, but this wasn’t as easy as we thought. Still we stained what we got and looked at it under the microscope. The tissue had indeed fallen a part a bit as you see in the microscopy image below. However, we can still see a layer of green cells. The green bits are chloroplasts. Right beside those we distinguish cells that are striped… looking like blue zebras! Those are xylem vessels. Vessels have special cell wall thickenings that form around the cell giving it support and rigidity in order to transport water. These cells exist as well in the poppy capsule. Now we were curious to see whether, despite the disintegrated section, we would be able to make a pattern from those cells.
A surprising pattern
For our pattern we took the xylem vessels and made them the focal point of the pattern. The cells themselves make interesting patterns and shapes and the xylem cell wall thickenings add an extra layer of depth and interest to the pattern, while the color palette is in calming but rich shades of blue and purple in the original image. We also played with the colors and created a red version to reflect the color of the poppy flower and last but not least we created a black-and-white version for a more gender neutral touch. It’s a view of poppy you would never expect to see and a fantastic pattern given the trouble we had with the sectioning.