Sunday, February 7, 2010

My most sincere apologies

This is no way to keep a blog or to treat faithful readers. (I am very fond of the precious few I have.) I've been busy, well, it's a complex blend of writer's block, stress, the loss of Internet, a snowstorm, and the preoccupations that come with moving all of your belongings to a storage facility halfway up the continent. Ooof! Now that all the crazyness is over, I'll be settling back down into a slightly more consistent posting pattern. I've got lots of fascinating topics to share, most of which are just waiting patiently as drafts. So please do come back! I promise I'll do better.

In hopes of your forgiveness, I offer you this drawing I did a couple years back - probably one of my best to date.

You can find more drawings I posted on Deviant Art by clicking here

        How about a little science behind the art. My little fairy is resting in the broad and elongated leaf of a purple orchid (which although inspired by many species, does not represent one in particular). Orchids are monocots and therefore have the characteristic simple leaf with parallel venation also found in the tulip and maize. They represent the largest group of flowering plants and although they are most abundant in the tropics, you can find species all the way up to the Arctic Circle and on land masses nearing Antarctica. 

OrchidImage by santoshnc via Flickr
    Their abundance and wide spread distribution may be linked to their highly risky and complex reproductive strategies. Their mimicry is unmatched in the plant world and their mechanisms so complex they merit their own segment (hint hint foreshadowing). Orchids produce millions of minute seeds that are dispersed mainly by the wind. Their size allows them to be transported to far off places. Their numbers allow for mutations that may insure the survival of the seedlings in various conditions.

     They are the record holders for the smallest seeds produced by vascular plants. This, however, comes at a great cost. To save space, orchid seeds do not have endosperm, stored food in the form of starch, oils, and proteins. Endosperm is what allows germination before the seedling can produce its food from the environment. Orchids bypass this need by forming a symbiotic relationship with mychorrizal fungi. Obviously this is easier said that done which is why cultivating orchids is such a challenge, but somehow they manage and produce incredible results.

If you wish to see more examples of the diversity and beauty of orchids and don't feel like playing with google images, Greg Allikas has produced this beautiful orchid slideshow you can look at by clicking here.

Take care!
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