The weather here in the U.K. is beginning to show signs of improvement and I've been wandering around the garden looking at many plants that are just beginning to 'come back to life'. A small rather tragic shrub has just started to open it's dormant buds to reveal smallish yellow flowers. I took a branch or two into the lab to have a look at the still-closed and just-opening buds, mainly to see if there was any interesting material for slide making or at least tissue sample collection....
I don't know the species or even the Genus I'm afraid; if anyone has any idea please let me know; it's a small ornamental cultivated garden shrub. Apologies for the following rather poor pictures but at the moment the plant is little more than twigs - no leaves yet...
The above said, my attention was drawn, during dissection under my stereo 'scope, to a number of rotting buds on the same branch as the clearly viable buds, that had died-off and become 'mouldy' for want of a better word.
Opening the tiny immature and mouldy buds I found that they had what almost looked like a tiny 'bracket fungus' within the folds of the leaves that protect the unopened bud. No fruiting bodies apparent but the commonly seen mycelium was evident.
The first thing I did was to place a few tiny pieces of the fungus and rotting-anther parts onto a slide and add a single drop of water. This is standard practice for me in preparation for the addition of a coverslip and examination with my Orthoplan (compound 'scope). Additionaly, as soon as any type of fungus enters the scene while dissecting I usually reach for one of the most well-known stains for this, 'Lactophenol Cotton-Blue' stain.
Adding a very lightly-staining quantity of this and rinsing I expected of course to see the mycelium strands and perhaps a few pollen grains, which I expected to survive the rotting process as pollen is extremely robust and able to withstand a huge variety of insults.
Both of these I saw, along with literally thousands of sickle-shaped objects that look a lot like diatoms - but having checked for birefringence with polarisation, and seeing none, I assumed that they were not Diatoms... They were not green either, as seen with those that remained unstained, as may be expected of the other that they resemble - algae. The question of how they get into the buds or indeed why they seem to thrive there in great numbers will have to wait without any even basic ID.
Some more images,
Here is some of the mycelium (the translucent woolly area on the left of the dark 'lump' which is a rotting anther) surrounded by many of the mystery objects that poured out of the mycelial tangle as water was added,
Closer-in this is the mycelium loaded with the unidentified sickle-shaped 'things' - I chose a very lightly stained area here to try to maximise detail of both in one image,
Here, backing away a little, are the objects en-masse, the round-ish darker objects are pollen grains,
Apologies for the horrid image-blur....
This is a little better, with pollen grain and scale-bar,
So, I'm certain many here know exactly what these are, I personally have no real idea!
Amazing what pops-out when looking at plants, their charm and mystery never ceases to please and amaze me!
Ideas for ID please folks! John B.