Sunday, July 31, 2011

Centaurium bianoris, a species in formation

 The gorgeous salmon color of the Centaurium bianoris flowers is perhaps most showy of this natural allotetraploid hybrid. Its genome still is not completely stabilized and defined, continues evolving for million years and this fact is the responsible of the great variability in the tonality of the color salmon of its petals, that can go from a sulphured color, Centaurium bianoris var. sulfureum, happening through the typical color more or less intense salmon, Centaurium bianoris var. bianoris, until a clearly pink tonality, Centaurium bianoris var. roseum. This great chromatic variability is consequence of the instability of its chromosomes and its genes, since in its tetraploid genome the complete genomes of two diploid species of the Centaurium sort coexist with different degrees of harmony. It belongs to the family of the Gentianaceae. 

During many years the botanists thought that their ancestors were the Centaurium pulchellum and the Centaurium maritimum, since apparently their macrocospic characteristics made therefore it suppose. Recently the genetic engeneering has given an upset to this supposition and it has been possible to know finally without no sort of doubts that their parents are the diploid Centaurium tenuiflorum subsp. acutiflorum of pink flowers and the diploid Centaurium maritimum of yellow flowers. It has been possible to even find out that at the time of the hibridization makes million years the father  who contributed with the pollen was the Centaurium tenuiflorum subsp. acutiflorum and the mother who contributed the ovule and therefore the metabolic system with the chloroplasts was the Centaurium maritimum. In the photo the flowers of the family are seen, above both ancestors and down the hybrid son.

 The color salmon of its petals, a really little character in the nature, confers a great beauty to it. I recommend to extend the photos with a double click.

A very showy characteristic of the flowers are the spiraled anthers of stamens.

The chloroplasts in the plants are the equivalent to mitochondrias in the mammals, which always inherit themselves by maternal way through mitochondrial chromosome of the feminine ovule. As animal mitochondrias the vegetal chloroplasts regulate the metabolism in each individual, so that most living beings inherit the metabolism of their mothers and have therefore more maternal genetic load than paternal. In the case of the Centaurium bianoris the inherited genes of their mother, the Centaurium maritimum, weigh more that those of their father and this it have been able to state in the genetic studies. I recommend to read the magnificent article in pdf of the Dr. Alessia Guggisberg, the Dr. François Bretagnolle and the Dr. Guilhem Mansion  Allopolyploid Origin of the Mediterranean Endemic, Centaurium Bianoris, Inferred by Molecular Markers

 The genome of the Centaurium bianoris is very unstable and its phenotype is extraordinarily variable. Before the height of the genetic engeneering one assumed that the varieties roseum and sulfureum were fruit of the retro-hybridization with one of them of its ancestors, but the genetic studies have discarded this possibility and the differences in the color of the flowers have been attributed to genetic silencing, that is to say, the blockade of the gene of one tonality and to the activation of the gene of another tonality. Thus in the variety sulfureum it would be silenced or it blocked the pink gene coming from the ancestor Centaurium tenuiflorum, whereas in the variety roseum would be the yellow gene of the Centaurium maritimum the one that would be silenced. Also in the leaves and other parts of the plant they have been found phenotypical differences by genetic silencing.

  It is evident that the Centaurium bianoris has still not arrived at the end of its process of speciation, continues trying and playing with its genes in the long search of its genetic stability that began with the original hibridization, from which a sterile allodiploid hybrid arose, Centaurium X bianoris (TM) with half of its genome of the Centaurium maritimum (MM) and the other half of the Centaurium tenuiflorum (TT). The absolute lack of homology in the chromosomes of its genome made impossible the formation of viable seeds. It was led the extinction after its death, since generally the allodiploid hybrids usually are individual unique that die without descendants. Nevertheless, after many tests during million years, the nature was able to meet this challenge and managed to generate a fertile allodiploid hybrid with an intelligent mutation in the meiosis, call apomeiosis (meiosis absence), that allowed him to produce diploid gametes (normally they are haploid) in each one of as there were all the chromosomes of its ancestor. This way a grain of diploid pollen (TM) fertilized a diploide ovule (TM) and generated a new allotetraploid plant (TTMM), with two whole genomes in its nucleus. It was just born the Centaurium bianoris.

The flowers have 5 petals and are tiny. In order to do an idea it is enough to compare the flower of the image with the yolk of the annular finger of my left hand.

  The Centaurium bianoris loves the direct sun. Its ideal habitat are the clear sites very illuminated of the pine groves and Mediterranean dry Garriga on grounds with little substrate generally covered with mosses and lichens. Usually it shares the habitat with Cistus, Rosmarinus, Pistacia lentiscus, Olea, Phillyrea, Ophrys, Barlia, Merendera, Blackstonia, Asphodelus, Asparagus, etc… It is a grass of annual cycle with a rosette of basal leaves and a turgid stem that it finishes in a branched inflorescence. The leaves of the stem are opposed and ovate-lanceolate. Usually it blooms in May and June.

 Variety roseum with a delicate pink tone, by the silencing of the yellow gene and predominance of the pink gene of the ancestor Centaurium tenuiflorum subsp. acutiflorum.

Variety sulfureum with predominance of the yellow gene of the ancestor Centaurium maritimum.

This gorgeous hybrid is endemic to Majorca, Ibiza and Formentera. Their two ancestors coexist in other many regions of Western Europe and North Africa, but they have peculiarly not been able to hybridize or if they have made it the hybrid has not managed to surpass sterility, when lacking the mutation that causes the apomeiosis during the formation of the gametes. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dactylopius coccus, a good plague against a bad plague

The cochineal carmine, Dactylopius coccus, is a small Mexican insect parasitic of the cactus of the Opuntia sort. Before the appearance of synthetic colourings this cochineal was widely bred to obtain the red colouring carmine, also called grana cochineal, red natural 4, crimson lake, nocheztli or simply E120. The carmine already was used by the pre-Hispanic Indians to dye their clothes and hair, to color with mural paintings their palaces and religious buildings and to make up the face of the priests. 

At the beginning of May of year 2007 I visited for the first time the gorgeous canary island of La Palma. After enjoying the ebullient vegetation of North half of the island I went towards the south, much more dry and warm. In Tazacorte I parked the car next to a bar where I took a very good coffee with canary cookies. I took soon my dear compact camera and I get ready to photograph all the interesting plants that were in the streets, gardens and orchards of that one beautiful town.

The first that called my attention was feral ferns of Pteris vittata species that grew in the cracks of rocks that bordered a street. Meters further on in a curve very closed there was a vigorous Opuntia ficus-indica cultivated in a particular orchard, whose shovels seemed snow covers. As soon as I approached I knew that one was the famous cochineal of the carmine one. It had never seen it and my joy was very great. Luckily the shovels were around my head and it was not difficult to me to take a few photos them. The unique problem was the cars that circulated in the heat of urban helmet at a high speed and to having stuck roadside ditch nor sidewalk they almost did not take the curve to the wall from the orchard. With little friendly gestures they made sound the horn and they rebuked me furious. They had every reason, but I could not be gone of La Palma without a few photos of these so famous small animals. After than more 50 years ingesting the dyestuff of its abdomens finally I saw its source.

Ice creams strawberry color, yogurts strawberry color, jams of strawberry, cherry and raspberry with carmine addition to reinforce the red color, the red gelatin, the famous liquor Campari, vermout Martini Rosso, some inlays, the substitutes of the crab meat, the red caramels, famous m& m's chocolate, the cereals Kelloggs with strawberry flavor, the juices of red fruits, some sauces of tomato, the medicinal capsules and tablets dyed of red, the syrups with strawberry  flavor, the antibiotic syrups for children of red color, the graze tooth red, red buccal elixirs and other many nutritional, pharmaceutical and cosmetic products, like lipstick, shade of eyes and pink dusts of makeup, take the colouring red carmine of the cochinela Dactylopius coccus.

Small colonies of females of cochineal carmine on a shovel of Opuntia ficus-indica. Extending the photos with a double click are better the details.

After decades of declivity it returns to increase the interest by this invertebrate. The increasing rejection to the colouring chemicals coverall in the nutritional industry and the recent height of the natural methods of biological fight for the control of the plagues has made resurge these deposits of cochineals coverall in Peru that 84% of the world-wide demand produce, followed by the Canary Islands with 8%, Chile with 6% and Bolivia with 2%. They export so much dyestuff as the nymphs cheers of Dactylopius to be used in the biological control of the cactus of the Opuntia sort that have invaded extensive regions of the planet. These American plants, when not having natural enemies outside Central America and South America, are feral with facility in the countries where they are introduced and they get to occupy thousands of hectares, disabling the pasturing and culture of these earth and putting in serious danger the native flora that cannot compete with these so aggressive plants. The deliberate infestation of opuntias with nymphs of cochineal, that is to say, their use like contraplague, seems to obtain spectacular results, managing to reduce to its growth and expansion until bearable levels for the ecosystem.

Colony of females of cochineal carmine in different stages from growth. As much the males as the females feed themselves on the sap of opuntias and to arrive at her they perforate cuticule of the shovels with a buccal sting in the form of needle for injectable and suck therefore the rich and nutritious sap of these American cactus to whom they debilitate and they shorten the life. Opuntias severely infested languishes quickly and dies to the few months, not surpassing in no case the six years.

 Another colony of females of Dactylopius coccus. This insect has a very noticeable sexual dimorphism. The males are small and winged. They reach the maturity weeks before the females and fly during the night of shovel in shovel to the search of receptive females, which lack wings and remain all their life in the same shovel. When they find a mature female stimulates it with its front legs and if this one accepts the male then this one is placed to a side of the female, it looks for one of the two genital openings that this one under its abdomen has, introduces the sperm and fertilizes eggs of the ovary of the same side, happens soon to the other side and repeats the same steps to fertilize eggs of the other ovary. Then the gravid female quickly increases of size and its voluminous full egg abdomen surrounded by carmine, which turns out to be a mortal poison for its natural predators, serving to it this way like protection not to be devoured.

 When the eggs are mature they leave the genital apparatus of the female and enter a species of marsupiums or bags formed by membranous expansions that the female has in the ventral face of its abdomen, where they hatch and reach the phase of nymphs. Finalized this stage the female give birth the nymphs on shovel of opuntia and these begin to suck sap to increase of size.  

Extending the photo with a double click smallest nymphs can be seen just borned around their mothers. When they have reached a certain size secretes waxiness filaments similar to those of the poplar seeds and hopes patiently that a gust of wind raises it and takes it until another opuntia. In this phase they receive the name of migrant nymphs and its system of transport by the wind is called anemocoria, very used by the seeds of many plants. If they manage to fall on a shovel, either of the same opuntia or distant other the more, perforates cuticule with their buccal sting and begins to feed itself and to increase of size until reaching the maturity, moment at which they are fertilized during the night by a flying male come from another opuntia and returned to begin its cycle of the life.

Near image of several cochineals of carmine egg floods with its bodies covered with white waxiness grudges that protect them of solar rays. The right several tiny nymphs just born with long legs see themselves that allow to move them by opuntia to the search of a noninfested shovel. If they do not find a good place in the same opuntia, then they are transformed into migrant nymphs and they fly with the aid of the wind until another one opuntia.

If an adult cochineal is squashed with the fingers blood turns out to be full of immersed eggs in carmine liquid of an alive red color. The spots that are in the fingers take several days in disappearing.

Some people develop allergy to this dyestuff. The lipsticks are especially dangerous. The ample use of the carmine one in multitude of foods, drinks, medecines and cosmetics does almost impossible to avoid the exhibition to the allergen.

Also the extrict vegetarians have a serious problem with this dyestuff. They are themselves forced at great length to read the labels of the components of all the foods and drinks, especially those that have a suspicious red color, where with luck their manufacturers limit themselves to put "natural colouring E120". 

The substance that gives the red color the carmine one is the carminic acid. This dyestuff is obtained drying the gravid females to the sun after taking by friction the white waxiness grudges that protect that them of solar rays, that is to say, are skinned and cooked alive. Once dry they are crushed to turn them into a red dust. This carmine raw ones can be commercialized so what or can be purified through several chemical processes until obtaining carminic acid with a high degree of purity. Logically to greater purity greater is the price reached in the markets. Best the carmine one contains a 22´5% of carminic acid and receives the name of carmine premium, it is follow by the first quality carmine with a 19´5% and the second quality carmine with a 10% of purity.
Therefore it is that the women paint the lips and the contour of eyes with the entrails of gravid cochineals, ecological fabrics are dyed of a beautiful red color blood with gravid cochineals, when we chewed a red chewing-gum we are crushing entrails of gravid cochineals, when we savored a substantial red hamburger or a delicious ice cream of fruits of the forest we are eating the entrails of gravid cochineals and when we rinsed the mouth with a red elixir we soaked our teeth, tongue, palate, gums and throat with entrails of gravid cochineals. Uffff, we hope that the eggs do not born in our internal and the nymphs do not put in mistaken marsupium of our anatomy.

Happy dreams, friendly!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Candidatus Phytoplasma pini, it makes brooms for the witches

It is neither a virus nor a bacterium, but it has characteristics of both microorganisms. It would be because an intermediate step, a link in the evolution. It cannot live on independent way since the bacteria do but necessarily it needs to live within the cytoplasm of a vegetal cell, because it lacks independent cellular membrane and metabolic and reproductive system and takes advantage enzymes and the organules of the vegetal cell to survive and to be perpetuated. It is a special plasmid more evolved and different from the plasmids that parasitize the bacterias and leavenings, adapted to the parasitization of the cells of the coniferous of the Pinus sort.

 Broom of sorceresses or Graft of sorceresses on a Pinus halepensis in an immense forest of Jimena de la Frontera in Cadiz. These malformations, true plant tumors, are caused by the infection by the plasmid Candidatus Phytoplasma pini.

Until not long ago the ignorance was so great on this strange microorganism that not even had binomial scientific name like the rest of alive beings of the Earth. The international scientific community in the end has agreed itself and it has given a name to it formed by three words, Candidatus Phytoplasma pini. The Candidatus word is applied in front of the scientific name to indicate that it is a microorganism perfectly characterized and studied but impossible to cultivate, since always lives inside cells and it cannot be isolated. 

Same broom of sorceresses previous seen from more close.

Structure of the ramifications of previous broom of sorceresses. The plasmid brings about a dwarfing growth shortening the branches that grow crowded together, so that those that are inside the broom are dried for want of light. Due to the maze that forms they cannot fall and they exaggeratedly increase the weight of the ill branch, being able to get to break itself and to fall. Needles also grows much more short and pineapples are completely normal but much more small, like their seeds, which in spite of the parasitization are perfectly viable. 

These vegetal plasmids or phytoplasmas cannot be seen nor be isolated like individual beings, it is only possible to see and to analyze the effects of its parasitization on the plants. They cannot either disperse by themselves of active way, but they need a vector to infect the plants and to propagate. For it insects, acaruses, nematodes, birds, etc use… that transmit the plasmid of plant to plant by means of the tiny ones hurt which they cause to the plants when feeding on them. The contagion also can cause it the man through contaminated tools, like for example scissors to prune, hand saws, power saws, axes, etc… And finally an ill tree can propagate the infection through rubbing of its branches with the branches of the neighboring trees.

Graft of sorceresses or Broom of sorceresses completely spherical on a Pinus halepensis of the ancient Arab village of Castellitx, pertaining to the municipality of Algaida located in center of the Island of Majorca.

Another Broom of sorceresses very compact in the same Majorcan village of Castellitx in the end of one long branch of a Pinus halepensis.

Near image of the previous ill branch. It clearly has a very healthful aspect with needles of an alive green color and numerous pineapples.

The scientists, to know if a branch is ill, must analyze their cells using sophisticated methods of genetic engeneering, as it is the PCR (polymerase chain reaction), through which are able to isolate and to identify some specific genes of this plasmid, like the gene 16S rRNA. 

Broom of sorceresses on Pinus canariensis of the canary municipality of Santiago del Teide located in the South end of the Island of Tenerife.

The plasmid Candidatus Phytoplasma pini, once has been able to penetrate in the cells of the phloem of a sensible tree, it integrates its genome in the nucleus of the parasitized vegetal cell, so that the infected cell happens to be controlled by the DNA of the plasmid. So it is the degree of nuclear integration that the pinions produced by the small pineapples of broom of sorceresses, if they are seeded, germinate without problems but the growth of small plant is very slow and after enough years it becomes a dwarfed pine, a true natural Bonsai. It is possible that throughout million years of parasitization of some plants by virus or plasmids new species have formed that at the moment have already the stable good genome with a total integration of the DNA of the guest and the parasite.

Young Aleppo pine, parasited in its entirety by the Candidatus Phytoplasma pini in a forest of pine, mastic and olive in Majorcan municipality of Bunyola.

With the advances more and more sophisticated of the study of the genome surely there will be many surprises and they are very probable that the viral or plasmidic origin of a great number of species and subspecies, as much animal as vegetal or bacterial are discovered. In fact the transgenic plants and animal " created" by the scientists to obtain new beings with "profitable" characteristics for the man they follow the same principle that the broom of sorceresses: cows with the integrated gene of the human insulin in its genome that produce milk with insulin, rice with the gene of resistance to the drought coming from a cereal of the desert that allows its successful land culture with little rains, pigs with several genes of its genome replaced by human genes whose organs could be profiteers for transplants without bringing about rejection in the receiver, fluorescent mice with the gene of a marine crustacean, goats with several genes of its genome replaced by vegetal genes whose milk contains "good" fats without injurious cholesterol for the human arteries, etc...

Another graft of sorceresses on a Pinus canariensis in the National Park of La Caldera de Taburiente, located in the Island of La Palma.

The nurserymen look for by far interest these brooms of sorceresses. With its seeds they make establishments of dwarfed pines and with its ill branches they graft healthy pines that they grow as small graft of sorceress. As much as others they reach high prices in the world of the coniferous collectors to be seeded in particular gardens like true botanical peculiarities. Also the fans to the art of the Bonsai know very well these brooms of sorceresses, with whose seeds and grafts of branches they secure gorgeous units of Bonsais that by their slowest growth on approval put their masters and their patience.

Nevertheless sometimes it happens that from the center of the branches of one of these dwarfed pines, coverall of the obtained ones by graft, emerges a vigorous normal branch completely heals and the rest of the graft is ended up drying, as if suddenly the pine had cured itself by its own means. Until the moment the explanation is not known these spontaneous healings.

There are many other Phytoplasmas, each of them specific of a certain vegetal species, like the Candidatus Phytoplasma aurantifolia, that affects the lime tree, the Candidatus Phytoplasma fraxini, that affects the ash, the Candidatus Phytoplasma castaneae, that affects the chestnut tree, the Candidatus Phytoplasma mali, that affects the apple tree, the Candidatus Phytoplasma oryzae, that affects the rice, the Candidatus Phytoplasma ziziphi, that affects to jujube tree and the Candidatus Phytoplasma trifolii, that affects to the legumes of the Trifolium sort. All these phytoplasmas cause vegetal malformations similar to broom of sorceresses of the pines. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Notholaena marantae subsp. subcordata, the priestess of Sun God

Its love by the sun is perhaps the characteristic that more good defines to the Notholaena marantae, a strange hairy fern adapted to support the long months of persistent drought of the Macaronesian summer, the direct and intense irradiation of the sun of the noon and the burning torrid heat of rocks oriented to the south of the Canary Islands, the Island of Madeira and the Cape Verde Islands. The Notholaena marantae that lives in the Macaronesia belongs to the subcordata subspecies. It belongs to the Sinopteridaceae family with Cheilanthes and Pellaea. In the Canary Islands it is called Doradilla acanelada, by the showy hair color cinnamon that covers the underside of the fronds. Its diploid chromosome is 2n =58, n = 29.

I finished back leaving the precious town of Santiago del Teide and I arranged to raise towards the Tip of the Teide by a road full of curves, constructed on an old black lava river. They would be the 10 hours in the morning and the insolation was blinding. After a curve, to each side of the road, it appeared before my eyes of lover of the ferns a numerous population of Notholaena, Cosentinia and Cheilanthes, all of them worshippers of the sun and the heat, the antithesis of the idea that usually we have of the ferns, because on the contrary that the immense majority of them, these three sorts needs to live to total sun, with very little humidity, much heat and much light. I enjoyed as a child who had just given him the toy he likes. I parked in a small landing of the roadside ditch, removed my old compact camera that has accompanied to me in so many trips and I get ready to occur a stuffing of ferns. At the outset I only saw Notholaenas with its showy turgid fronds of more than 35 centimeters, but when I approached and watched between rocks and black stones they appeared numerous Cosentinia vellea with its shelter of white hair and small Cheilanthes pulchella, all of them with the fresh and turgescent fronds good in spite of the apparent dryness and the burning heat. 

Vigorous Cosentinia vellea subsp. bivalens sharing the habitat with the Notholaena marantae subsp. subcordata. Extending the photos with a double click are better the details.

Old Cheilanthes pulchella, that keeps certain a similar one with the Notholaena, although their dimensions is much more modest and lacks the typical ferruginous pilosity in underside of their fronds. It grows in the same habitat, but it prefers more shaded situations. It is a Macaronesic fern, endemic of Canarias and Madeira.

Perhaps it was in the Island of La Palma where I could see the Notholaenas most vigorous with fronds almost 40 centimeters., growing in the low part of this retaining wall  builded to retain the volcanic gravel and sand of a small hill near Teneguia Volcano located in the South end of the island. The sun was blinding and the temperature to the 13 hours of the noon had to go up to around 40ºC and nevertheless the Notholaenas and Cosentinias that grew there saw well turgescent and fresh. Made kneel on the gravel to do good photos to them I discovered its secret. The basaltic black sand that was behind the wall was humid, very humid, until the extreme to grow mosses and hepatic. Then I asked myself from where could come this humidity in a place so frightfully dry and inhospitable, more similar to a desert that to a Macaronesian island. I raised the eyes towards the hill of volcanic gravel and without stopping thinking I turned and scanned with the view the skirt of Teneguia Volcano that lowers towards the sea and then I understood the secret of that one mystery when seeing the peculiar plantations of vine that natives cultivated so intelligently in small holes excavated in the volcanic gravel. The humidity came from the marine breeze that every morning raises from the loaded humidity sea, hits against the very porous basaltic gravel that absorbs the drops of dew as a sponge and the freshest water little by little, drop to drop, are filtered towards the subsoil and dampen the roots of the ferns and the vines, giving them the life.

Next to this gorgeous Cosentinia vellea that grows in the skirt of Teneguia Volcano, to the left of the photo, we can see small thalli of hepatics and a little mosses on a showy humid sand. This condensation of the humidity of the marine breeze follows the same process that horizontal rain, so typical of the Macaronesia, replacing the leaves of the trees of the Laurisilva by the porous volcanic gravel.

Teneguia volcano in the South coast of the Island of La Palma, where took place the last volcanic eruption in Spanish territory in 1971. Form leaves from a greater volcano called Cumbre Vieja than Natural Park in 1987 was declared. Just behind Teneguia Volcano it is the Atlantic Ocean, whose loaded humidity breeze every morning covers with dew black basaltic lava. In first plane several shrubs of Vinagrera, a canary endemic plant of scientific name Rumex lunaria.

Slope of Teneguia Volcano that descends smoothly towards the ocean with an impressive and ebullient vineyard which it covers the black lava of a full green carpet of life. The wine that is obtained from these vineyards has an extraordinary quality with a magmatic bouquet very special.

 In the Island of Madeira also grows the Notholaena marantae subsp. subcordata. Here we see a gorgeous unit near the city of Funchal.

Taking a walk by the long Footpath of the Pijaral, in the heat of Massive of Anaga, I was with this unit of pendular fronds, that at the outset I did not know what was, because in anything it was looked like a Notholaena. When I gave the return to a frond to photograph the sori and I saw ferruginous hairiness, I knew immediately that one was a solitary Notholaena born in a habitat little adapted for its species, perhaps of one spore taken by the wind. Their fronds downwards grew in a desperate attempt to catch the maximum of solar light, because right above there was a leafy forest of fayal-brezal that gave shade the most part of day.

This loving of the sun fern not always grows in places with constant water contribution throughout the year. These two units that live between rocks of the South skirt of the Tip of the Teide, far from the sea, must support to the long months of drought of the Tenerife summer without the contribution of the humidity of the marine breeze. But not probleme, although apparently seems dead and parched, its aspect is pure adaptation. When the soil where they are taken root is without water, rhizome reabsorbs the sap of the fronds, which are coiled on themselves and acquire the aspect of parched herbs. It is so his degree of dehydration that if a fronde with the hand is squeezed undoes between the fingers and nevertheless is not dead. With the first rains of the canary autumn, to the few hours the fronds are rehydrated, expanded, are unrolled, turned green again full of life as if nothing had happened. This adaptive mechanism is called aestivation.

Frond of Notholaena marantae subsp. subcordata with the bipennate, ovate-lanceolate lamina, reddish rachis and the whole or lobed sights in the base with the underside covered with paleae of an alive ferruginous or cinnamon color.

Detail of pinnae and pinnules of an alive more or less dark green color and peculiar off-white pluricellular hairs that arise from rachis and the beam of pinnae. Like the paraphyses of the Polypodium cambricum, these hairs would have the function of sensors of the environmental humidity and would indicate to the fern the optimal moment to open the sporangia and to disperse spores.

Detail of the pluricellular white hairs

Gorgeous cinnamon color of the paleae that cover the underside of pinnae and rachis.

Detail of the paleae of the Notholaena marantae, longer in rachis, that totally cover the sori with a protective shelter. Between the paleae also pluricellular white hairs grow, that as those of the beam of the frond, would have the same function to detect the environmental humidity degree, to disperse spores at the more adapted moment for their germination. 

Microscopic image of a palea of Notholaena marantae. 

Structure of a palea seen 400 increases. It is formed by the housings of dead and empty cells.

 Sporangium of great size with a ring of close and very together cells. 

Black very great and round spores with reticulated perispore. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Retama of Teide, white like the snow

The white Retama of Teide, Spartocytisus supranubius, is a leguminous bush endemic of the islands of Tenerife and La Palma very abundant in the subalpine zone of the Canadas of  Teide, where it comprises of the vegetal community called "retamar" composed by summit scrubs. It shares the habitat with the red tajinaste, codeso de cumbre, escobon or tagasaste, the amagante, the pajonera grass, the alheli of the Teide, neuta or gatera grass, the rosalito de cumbre and the fistulera grass. 

Gorgeous image of a Spartocytisus supranubius to about 2,000 msnm with the Teide snow-covered to the bottom in the heat of month of May. Its name of Spartocytisus sort makes reference to the intermediate botanical characteristics between the sorts Spartium and Cytisus. Its name of species supranubius is formed by two Latin words: supra that means " over " and nubius, that means " cloud ", that is to say, that grows over the cloud bank that surrounds as a white ring the highest summits by the Canary Islands. I recommend to extend the photos with a double click to see them better. 

Retama of  Teide on the verge of blooming at the beginning of May. This shrub reaches the 2 meters of height and is one of the predominant plants of the flora of high mountain of Tenerife and La Palma.

Spartocytisus supranubius in the Port of Izana to 2,338 msnm. next to the highway that goes of the Teide towards Arafo. The photo is done the 11 of May. There was snow in the roadside ditch.

The tender buds have trifoliate leaves with linear leaflets, at the beginning of an alive clear green color that it becomes with time grayish.

Stems of retama of Teide that remain without leaves the year most of, since they are expired and they fall with the first colds of the autumn. In order to realise the photosynthesis the stems conserve the green color.

Flowery Spartocytisus supranubius at the beginning of May in slopes of the crater that surrounds the tip by the Teide growing on almost black volcanic gravel.

Ebullient white flowering of the Retama of Teide

Detail of a flowery branch of previous retama.

The flowers have an intense immaculate white color like the snow that shines with own light.