Ethnobotany: Cinchona, Quinine, and Malaria

Most folks these days who enjoy a gin and tonic on a warm summer day probably aren’t stricken or threatened with malaria, but the first partakers of this popular cocktail were. Their drinks, however, had a much larger helping of one particular ingredient, quinine. SAMSUNG In the early 1600’s while exploring Peru, Jesuit missionaries from Spain were introduced to a tree, the bark of which could treat malaria. That tree was the cinchona tree. At that time malaria was a major issue in Europe, and so the Jesuits brought some cinchona bark back to Spain in hopes of saving some lives. The cinnamon-colored bark was administered by grinding it into a powder and serving it in sweetened water. This treatment became a big success and eventually spread throughout the continent. Exports of cinchona bark increased, much of which were coming from forests in the border region of Ecuador and Peru. Over time the cinchona bark (also called Jesuit’s bark and Peruvian bark) became less available, either due to overharvesting or because the Peruvians began to highly regulate its exportation. In order to fill the demand and ensure a steady supply, Dutch and British explorers established cinchona plantations in Southeast Asia.

Bark of Cinchona officinalis (photo credit: wikimedia commons)

Bark of Cinchona officinalis (photo credit: wikimedia commons)

Malaria is caused by protozoan parasites in the genus Plasmodium. Humans become infected with the parasites when they are bitten by infected mosquitos (Anopheles spp.). The parasites enter the bloodstream and liver and begin to reproduce. People with malaria experience flu-like symptoms and, if not treated quickly and properly, risk death. While early Europeans did not know it at the time, the cinchona bark treatment worked because it contained quinine, an antimalarial compound, which suppresses and destroys malarial parasites.

Quinine is an alkaloid (a class of nitrogen-containing organic compounds) that cinchona trees produce as a defense against insect herbivory. Many plants produce alkaloids for this reason, and these alkaloids, when discovered and isolated by humans, have proven to be quite useful. Caffeine, nicotine, morphine, and strychnine are all examples of alkaloids. Quinine was isolated from cinchona bark in the 1820’s and eventually produced synthetically in the 1940’s. It is still used today to treat malaria, although other antimalarial drugs are now favored due to greater effectiveness and fewer side effects. Today, products containing quinine are available for the treatment of leg cramps; however, the United States Food and Drug Administration has stated that they have not approved quinine for this use and advise consumers to avoid such products.

Cinchona is a genus of evergreen trees and shrubs in the family Rubiaceae (the coffee family) that includes around 23 species. It is native to the Andes of South America and mountains in the southern portion of Central America and often occurs in cloud forests, forests that are characterized by regular, canopy-level cloud cover. Cinchona flowers are tubular, pollinated largely by butterflies and hummingbirds, and come in white, pink, and purple. The fruits of Cinchona are dry, woody capsules containing small, flat, papery seeds that are wind dispersed. C. pubescens, C. calisaya, and C. officinalis are the main species that have been cultivated for quinine production.

The flowers of Cinchona pubescens (photo credit: wikimedia commons)

The flowers of Cinchona pubescens (photo credit: wikimedia commons)

In the 19th century when Europeans were busy colonizing places like India and Africa, having a readily available source of cinchona bark was vital to their success. They may have had the guns and ammunition necessary for conquest, but even so, they would not have been able to withstand the plague of malaria parasites without regular doses of quinine. But quinine is bitter stuff. Served in sweetened soda water helped it go down. Add a ration of gin, even better. Imperialism was secured. Just something to think about the next time you’re mixing yourself a gin and tonic on a mid-September day.

Resources:

-Encyclopedia of Life: Cinchona

-University of Minnesota James Ford Bell Library: Cinchona Bark

-McGraw-Hill Education: Using Bark to Cure the Bite

-Wikipedia: Cinchona, Quinine, Jesuit’s Bark

-Slate: The Imperial Cocktail

-One Species at a Time Podcast: Quinine Tree

Kudzu Ate the South…Now Looks North

In 1876, an Asian vine was introduced to the people of the United States at a centennial celebration in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was a fairly benign looking vine, with its leaves of three and its cluster of sweet pea like flowers, but its exotic appeal must have been quite enticing, because it took off…and not just in popularity.

The plant that caught the eye of these early Americans was called kudzu (or kuzu in Japanese). It is a plant in the genus Pueraria in the family Fabaceae (the pea family). The plants first introduced to the U.S. were likely to have consisted of more than a single species such as P. montana, P. lobata, P. edulis, and others, or were hybrids of these species. They were initially lauded for their ornamental value but soon after were recognized for their potential as animal feed. By the 1930’s, when soil erosion had become a major issue, kudzu was deployed by the U.S. government to combat it. At least 85 million government-funded kudzu seedlings later, and the southeastern portion of the United States had secured a future dominated by this relentless and unforgiving vine.

Innocent and harmless is how kudzu must have first appeared, especially to those looking for a fast growing, large-leaved, vining plant to provide quick shade for porches, offering relief from the sun during those sweltering southern summers. Little did they know, however, if left unchecked, that prized vine could engulf homes and outbuildings, cover and pull down trees and utility poles, and choke out crops and pastures in the matter of a single growing season.

(photo credit: eol.org)

(photo credit: eol.org)

Kudzu was added to the Federal Noxious Weed List in 1997, long after it had established itself throughout the southeastern U.S. It now covers more than 3 million hectares, spreading at a pace of about 50,000 hectares (120,000 acres) per year. It is said that a kudzu vine can grow up to a foot in a single day or about 60 feet in a growing season. It is a twining vine, wrapping itself around any upright structure it can access and relying on that support in order to advance upwards. This gives it the advantage of using more resources for growth and expansion of both roots and shoots rather than on the resource demanding task of producing woody stems. Like other members of the pea family, it gets much of its nitrogen from the atmosphere through a process called nitrogen fixation. Because of this, kudzu can thrive in nutrient poor soils. Kudzu is also drought-tolerant, has leaves that follow the sun throughout the day in order to maximize photosynthesis, reproduces clonally by layering (stems in contact with the ground grow roots and detach from the parent plant), and (in North America) is free from the pests and diseases commonly associated with it in its native habitat. For these reasons and others, kudzu has become one of the most notorious, pervasive, and ecologically harmful weeds in the U.S., costing hundreds of millions of dollars in damages every year.

A close-up of kudzu flowers (photo credit: wikimedia commons)

A close-up of kudzu flowers (photo credit: wikimedia commons)

kudzu foliage and flowers

Foliage and flowers of kudzu (photo credit: wikimedia commons)

One glance at what kudzu has done in the southeastern states, and it is obvious that it is some kind of superweed. I saw firsthand just how overwhelming it can be as I drove through Mississippi several years ago. I didn’t even have to stop the car to investigate. It was easily apparent that it was the dominant species, enveloping every tree for miles alongside the highway. Currently, kudzu can be found in every county in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. But kudzu has a limitation; it doesn’t care much for freezing temperatures. Even though it has been present in parts of northern states – like Ohio, New Jersey, and Delaware – for a while now, it has generally been limited to milder locations, and it certainly doesn’t thrive in the same way that it does in the subtropical climates of the southern states. But that is changing, because the climate is changing.

Average global temperatures increased by about 1.53° F between 1880 and 2012, and this gradual increase is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. Biologists and ecologists are monitoring changes in climate closely in order to observe and predict changes in the biology and ecology of our planet. Invasive species are high on the list of concerns, as climate is often a major limitation to their spread. Now that kudzu has been found in Marblehead, Massachusetts and Ontario, Canada, the fear of kudzu climbing north is becoming a reality.

Kudzu is incredibly difficult to control. It does not respond to many herbicides, and the herbicides that do affect it must be applied repeatedly over a long time period. It is an excellent forage plant, so utilizing grazing animals to keep it in check can be effective. Those who have succumbed to kudzu, acknowledging that it is here to stay, have found uses for it, including making baskets, paper, biofuel, and various food items. A compound extracted from the kudzu root is also being studied as a possible treatment for alcoholism. Kudzu has long been valued for its culinary and medicinal uses in Asia, so it is no surprise that uses would be found for it in North America. However, North Americans who embrace kudzu are taking a defeatist approach. That is, “if we can’t get rid of it, we may as well find a use for it.” This, however, should not negate nor distract from the damage it has caused and continues to cause local ecosystems and the ecological threat that it poses to areas where it is just now being introduced or may soon be introduced due to our warming climate.

Millions of dollars are spent every year to address the effects kudzu has on utility poles (phot credi: eol.org)

Millions of dollars are spent every year to remove kudzu from utility poles and replace poles pulled down by kudzu (photo credit: eol.org)


References:

- Encyclopedia of Life: Pueraria Montana

- Wikipedia: Kudzu in the United States

- Max Shores: The Amazing Story of Kudzu

- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Conservation in a Changing Climate

- NASA Earth Observatory: How Much More Will the Earth Warm?

- Bloomberg: Kudzu That Ate U.S. South Heads North as Climate Changes

Documentary: Know Your Mushrooms

Earlier this month, the 33rd annual Telluride Mushroom Festival took place in Telluride, Colorado. This is an event that draws in hundreds (thousands, perhaps?) of fungi enthusiasts. As a budding fungi enthusiast myself, I get excited when I hear tale of gatherings such as these, and while I did not make it out this year, the Telluride Mushroom Festival is high on my list of things to attend sometime in the years to come.

My fascination with fungi started shortly before I headed to graduate school in Illinois in 2009. I had just read about mycoremediation in a book called Toolbox for Sustainable City Living, and that, along with what I had learned about soil fungi in my college soils courses, had me very curious about the world of mycology. I have yet to spend the kind of time that I would like to on this subject, but it remains of great interest to me.

A couple years ago I was writing weekly recommendations on my previous blog, the juniper bends as if it were listening. One of my weekly recommendation posts was about a documentary film called, Know Your Mushrooms. I am reposting that review  here in honor of this month’s mushroom festival in Telluride, and because I think it’s a film worth watching. No, it is not about plants per se, but it is about a kingdom of living things that regularly interacts with plants. Not only that, but it’s about a major player in the ecology of practically every ecosystem on earth. Bottom line: if you are at all interested in the natural world, you will be interested in this film.

know your mushrooms

Mushrooms freaks, fungiphiles, and myco-fanatics alike are all probably well aware of this fantastic documentary film by Ron Mann entitled, Know Your Mushrooms, but for uninitiated folks and novices like myself, this is a great introduction. This film will acquaint you with a peculiar crowd of mushroom lovers and fungus aficionados, where you will marvel in their uniqueness and their vast knowledge concerning the fascinating world of mycology. Mann bases his film around his visit to the Telluride Mushroom Festival in Colorado, where mushroom fans have gathered annually for many years now to celebrate and revel in the fungal world. Mann converses with several mushroom experts and enthusiasts, but spends most of his time with self-proclaimed guru, Larry Evans. Alongside Evans, Mann explores numerous mycological topics, including mushroom hunting, mushroom cooking, poisonous mushrooms, psychedelic mushrooms, mushroom folklore, mushroom health benefits, and the ecological and environmental benefits of fungi (mycoremediation!). This is a very well-produced and well-directed film, maintaining the interest and attention of the viewer as it transitions from one aspect of mushroom culture to another, simultaneously providing education and entertainment throughout. If your viewing experience is anything like mine, by the time this film is over, you will be wishing that you were as knowledgeable about mushrooms as the folks featured in this film. As a result of watching Mann’s documentary, I have vowed to redouble my efforts and commit myself to the study of mycology so that one day I can join fellow fungus freaks in a celebration of this magnitude. Perhaps you will join us…

Morels harvested on the forest floors of Illinois

Morels harvested on the forest floor of Illinois

My Carrion Flowers

In April of last year, a box of stem cuttings arrived in my mailbox. They were sent to me by a friend in Colorado called Sandra (you may know her from one of her many ventures: Greenwoman Magazine, Greenwoman Publishing, Flora’s Forum, etc.). Sandra’s carrion flower had bloomed that spring, a stinky but delightful occasion. In her excitement, she asked if I would be interested in growing some carrion flowers of my own. Not one to turn down the chance to try my hand at cultivating something unusual, I gladly accepted her offer of a few cuttings sent via Priority Mail. Six cuttings arrived shortly thereafter, and upon reading through some instructions on the internet, I nestled them into their new home and hoped they would put down roots and stay a while.

carrion flower cuttings

There are several species of plants that are referred to commonly as carrion flower. The plant parts I received from Sandra are in the genus Stapelia (family: Apocynaceae or dogbane family), also known commonly as African starfish flower. There are around 100 species in the genus Stapelia, and they all originate from tropical and southern Africa, mostly in arid regions.

Stapelias are short-lived, low-growing, perennial succulents. Their stems typically stand erect and are produced along stolons (above ground runners), creating a tight clump of stems that appear cactus-like. Each stem has 4-6 flattened vertical flanks, giving it a cross or star shape when looking down from the top. On the outside edges of the flanks are a series of rudimentary leaves protruding from tubercles (wart-like growths), giving the stems a spiny appearance. The stems are usually green but can also be red or mottled with red or purple.

The flowers of Stapelia are the real show. They are produced at or near the base of the stem and have a star-shaped corolla with five fused petals that come to sharp points. The corolla has a wrinkly look and is often hairy, especially along the margins. Flowers can be variations of red, brown, yellow, and purple. In some species they can reach up to 18 inches wide. It is a unique looking flower, but even more unique is its scent. Because Stapelia flowers are pollinated by flies, they emit the scent of rotting animal flesh, an odor that flies can truly appreciate. In fact, flies can be so deceived by the appearance and scent of the flowers that they occasionally lay their eggs on or near them, expecting them to be a food source for their emerging larva.

Stapelia variegate (photo credit: eol.org)

Stapelia variegata (photo credit: eol.org)

Stapelia is easily propagated, especially by stem cuttings. Allow cuttings to dry in a cool, shady location for 48 hours and then stick them in a well-drained potting soil mix. Water moderately (preferably from below by placing the container in a tray and then filling the tray with water). Cuttings should root easily. All six of mine did.

Keep Stapelia in a sunny or mostly sunny location. If you live in USDA hardiness zone 9 or above, you can grow Stapelia outdoors. Otherwise, keep it indoors near a window that gets lots of sun. The main thing you will have to worry about is stem rot due to over watering. Grow Stapelia in a well-drained soil mix, water from below, and allow soil to dry out between waterings in order to avoid this.

Stapelia variegata (photo credit: eol.org)

Stapelia variegata (photo credit: eol.org)

As for me and my carrion flowers, like I said earlier, all six cuttings rooted. I transplanted one of them. Of the five left in the original pot, one rotted a couple weeks ago and another rotted during the writing of this post. The remaining ones still look healthy, but none of them have grown much since they rooted. The main problem I am having is that my house does not let in much sunlight. What appears relatively bright to me is probably cave-like to my carrion flowers. Until I remedy that situation, they may not grow much, they could continue to rot, and they probably won’t flower any time soon. However, if anything changes and I do get a flower out of them, I will make it a point to let you know. And Sandra will be proud.

stapelia today_edit

 

Trees Are Good For Your Lungs

Trees help reduce air pollution. They do this primarily by pulling gases (like ozone, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide) into their leaves and then diffusing them and/or chemically altering them so that they are no longer a direct threat to humans. They also intercept particulate matter, trapping it on the surfaces of their leaves until the wind comes along and blows it away or the rain comes around and washes it into the soil. Trees are filters in this sense, reducing the health threats of our polluted air.

But didn’t I just report on the contribution of urban trees to air pollution via their production of volatile organic compounds? Yes I did. And that remains a possibility; however, according to a study recently published in the journal, Environmental Pollution, the presence of trees is a great benefit to human health despite potential risks. More research is necessary of course, but the consensus so far is that having trees around is a net positive.

Alnus glutinosa, European Alder (photo credit: wikimedia commons)

Alnus glutinosa, European Alder (photo credit: wikimedia commons)

There have been many studies on the relationship between trees and air quality, but little is known about the extent to which human health impacts are avoided and the related money that is saved as a result of air pollution mitigation by trees and forests. With the aid of computer simulations, researchers at US Forest Service and The Davey Institute used 2010 Census data, tree cover maps from the 2001 National Land Cover Database, US EPA’s BenMAP program, and other data to seek answers to these questions. Their analyses – focused at the county level – involved the 48 contiguous United States.

According to their study, trees and forests removed around 17.4 million tons of air pollution in 2010, which resulted in a health care savings of $6.8 billion. 850 human deaths were avoided, and incidences of acute respiratory symptoms were reduced by 670,000. Ozone and nitrogen dioxide experienced the greatest decrease, while the removal of ozone and particulate matter resulted in the greatest health value. Air pollution removal was greater in rural areas compared to urban areas simply because there is more rural area in the US than urban area; however, the removal of air pollution was found to be more valuable in urban areas due to differences in population density. Resulting health benefits and savings are quite dramatic considering that air pollution removal by trees was only found to improve air quality by about 1%.

There were many things left out in this study though, and the researchers acknowledge this. First of all – as stated earlier – trees have the potential to contribute to air pollution. They emit volatile organic compounds which can result in ozone formation, they can reduce wind speeds which concentrates pollutants, and they produce pollen which is a direct contribution to air quality and a major health issue for those with serious allergies.  But trees reduce air pollution in indirect ways as well. For example, by shading buildings, trees can reduce energy demands which results in decreased power plant emissions and a reduction in air pollution.

Quercus sp., Oak Tree (photo credit: wikimedia commons)

Quercus sp., Oak Tree (photo credit: wikimedia commons)

Trees can also be negatively affected by air pollution. When particulate matter collects on leaf surfaces, photosynthesis is compromised, limiting a tree’s ability to take gaseous air pollution into its leaves. Urban trees are stressed in additional ways. For example, trees growing near sidewalks, driveways, and roadways deal with serious soil compaction and are often not receiving optimal amounts of water, which can limit their ability to mitigate air pollution. Thus, environmental factors should be considered when determining the relationship between trees and air quality.

This study was conducted at the county level. The researchers acknowledge that more precise predictions could be obtained if analyses were conducted at a finer scale. “Local-scale design of trees and forests can affect local-scale pollutant concentrations.” So, the number of trees, their concentration and configuration, the length of the growing season, the percentage of evergreen trees vs. deciduous trees, etc. all play a role in the extent of air pollution reduction.

While limitations to the study abound, the researchers assert that this initial analysis gives “a first-order approximation of the magnitude of pollution removal by trees and their effect on human health.” Future studies will provide more accurate approximations, but for now I think it is safe to say that trees are good for our health and worthwhile things to have around.

Boise National Forest

Boise National Forest

This study focused mainly on health issues of the respiratory variety. The positive psychological benefits of plants have been observed in separate studies, and our also worthy of our consideration when determining the health benefits of trees and forests.

Drought Tolerant Plants: Blue Sage

If you are considering installing a drought tolerant garden on your property or including more drought tolerant plants in your landscape, one plant that should come standard is blue sage. Its silvery-green foliage, large, abundant, purple-blue flower stalks, and attractive mounded shape, make it an excellent feature in any water-efficient garden bed.

salvia pachyphylla_edit 1

Salvia pachyphylla is in the mint family (Lamiaceae). It has several common names which it shares with several other plants: blue sage, Mojave sage, rose sage, mountain desert sage, giant-flower sage. For this post we will refer to it as blue sage; however, if you’re looking to purchase it, make sure to verify the botanical name. Blue sage is a subshrub that can grow up to 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide. It tends to remain smaller – around 1-2 feet tall – in its native habitat. It is found in the southwestern states of the United Sates on dry, rocky slopes and flats at elevations between 5,000 – 10,000 feet. The leaves are oppositely arranged and covered with fine hairs that lay tightly against the leaf surface giving the foliage its silvery appearance. Like all other sages, the leaves of blue sage are highly aromatic.

salvia pachyphylla foliage_edit

The flowers appear in compact clusters on spikes that extend upward from the branches. The inflorescences can be several inches long. They have numerous large, purple bracts that appear in a whorled pattern along the spike. The violet-blue flowers are small but prolific and appear between the bracts surrounding the stalk. Flowering occurs throughout the summer (July-September in its native range). The flowers attract droves of pollinators including bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Blue sage is especially beneficial to native pollinators. In fact, while taking photos for this post, I noted that the flowers were being visited by several bumblebees. Its benefit to pollinators is another great reason to include this plant in your landscape.

salvia pachyphylla_edit 2

Blue sage is a very drought tolerant plant. Once it is established it requires only occasional watering throughout the summer in order to keep it looking good. It performs well in a variety of soil types, but like most drought tolerant plants it is best placed in well drained soil. Heavy soils can be amended by mixing in things like sand, lava rock fines, and compost at planting time. It prefers full sun and is winter hardy to USDA hardiness zone 5, especially if planted in an area where the soil is relatively dry throughout the winter. Blue sage is a long lived plant and can be kept in shape by cutting back the spent flowers in the fall. The folks at Plant Select recommend planting blue sage with, among other things, penstemon, coreopsis, and creeping veronica.

Photos were taken at Idaho Botanical Garden in Boise, Idaho.

14 Botanical Terms for Flower Anatomy

I like to know the names of things. Certainly I don’t have to know what everything is called in order to appreciate it for what it is, but that appreciation deepens when I understand it better. Scientific exploration helps us discover the workings of the world around us, and through that exploration comes the naming and describing of things. The names are largely arbitrary apart from the fact that they help us keep track of the descriptions associated with the discoveries. Calling things by name and knowing how to describe them not only increases our awareness of the natural world but can also give us greater appreciation for the larger picture and our place in it all. With that I introduce a new series of posts concerning botanical terms.

It’s mid-summer now (at least in the northern hemisphere) and flowers abound, so this first Botanical Terms post will help us become better familiar with flower anatomy. [I'm also releasing this post while the Botanical Society of America convenes for its annual conference in my current hometown - Boise, Idaho - so it seems fitting]. Of course, as soon as I began looking into the subject of flower anatomy, I realized very quickly that, like so many other things, it is incredibly complex. First of all, in the larger world of plants, not all produce flowers. Non-vascular plants don’t. And within the category of vascular plants, non-seed producing plants don’t make flowers either. Within the category of seed producing plants, there are two groups: gymnosperms and angiosperms. Angiosperms produce flowers; gymnosperms don’t. Even though that narrows it down quite a bit, we are still dealing with a very large group of plants.

The complexity doesn’t stop there, of course. Memorizing the names of flower structures and recognizing them on each flowering plant would be easy if every flowering plant had all of the same structures and if all structures existed on each flower. However, this is not the case. Depending on the flower you are looking at, some structures may be absent and some may have additional structures that are not common ones. Also, some plants have inflorescences that appear as a single flower but are actually a collection of many smaller flowers (or florets), like plants in the sunflower family (Asteraceae) for example. Regardless, we are going to start with basic terms, as there are a large number of flowering plants that do exhibit  all or most of the following basic structures in their flowers.

flower anatomy

Pedicel and Peduncle: These terms refer to the stem or stalk of the flower. Each individual flower has a pedicel. When flowers appear in groups (also known as an inflorescence), the stalk leading up to the group of flowers is called a peduncle.

Sepal and Calyx: Sepals are the first of the four floral appendages. They are modified leaves at the base of the flower that protect the flower bud. They are typically green but can be other colors as well. In some cases they may be very small or absent altogether. The sepals are known collectively as the calyx.

Petal and Corolla: Petals are colorful leaf-like appendages and the most familiar part of a flower. They come in myriad sizes, shapes, and colors and are often multi-colored. Their purpose is to attract pollinators. Many plants are pollinated by specific pollinators, and so their petals are designed to attract those pollinators. The petals are known collectively as the corolla.  

Stamen, Anther, and Filament: Pollen is produced in a structure called an anther which sits atop a filament. Collectively this is known as a stamen. Stamens are considered the male portion of the flower because they produce the pollen grains that fertilize the egg to form a seed. Flowers often have several stamens, and on flowers that have both male and female structures, the stamens are found surrounding the female portion.

Pistil, Carpel, Stigma, Style, and Ovary: The female portion of a flower consists of a stigma (where pollen grains are collected), a style (which raises the stigma up to catch the pollen), and an ovary (where pollen is introduced to the ovules for fertilization). Together this is known as a carpel. A collection of carpels fused together is called a pistil. Just like with stamens, flowers can have multiple pistils.

Start learning to identify floral structures on flowers like rugosa rose (Rosa rugosa). (photo credit: eol.org)

Start learning floral anatomy on flowers with easily recognizable structures like the flowers of rugosa rose (Rosa rugosa). (photo credit: eol.org)

Flowers are small art pieces, worthy of admiration in their own right. However, recognizing and exploring the different floral structures can be just as enthralling. The structures vary considerably from species to species, each its own piece of nature’s artwork. So, I encourage you to find a hand lens (or better yet a dissecting microscope) and explore the intimate parts of the flowers around you.