Tuesday, July 9, 2013

No name

Mary Adam, Monoprint of an unidentified plant

An unidentified little plant which grows abundantly in my only flowerbed. It's no more than two to three inches high and very delicate though it covers large areas. It must have flowers but I can't see them, maybe it needs a microscope. The roots are superficial in the soil such that it comes out in handfuls, the easiest weeding ever. Without a name that's all I can say about it for now. When one knows the name, I've found, vistas open up ... Google it and it turns out there's tons of information available. Which family it belongs to, its history, where and how it grows, whether it has medicinal value and so on. It's not comfortable not knowing the name. I don't know enough about it to go to the Flora either, one needs flowers for that.

But I can think about it in other ways. It has many tiny rounded green leaves ... the green indicating that they contain chlorophyll which converts carbon dioxide and water into oxygen and sugar. Whenever I think about this, it blows my mind, it really does. How did it come about? The equation looks simple but it's an incredibly complex process.

Photosynthesis equation, image from Wikipedia
The chlorophyll is contained in microscopic structures called chloroplasts, and the chloroplasts in turn contain sub-structures called thylakoids where the complex reactions of photosynthesis take place. Worlds within worlds indeed, my mind is perpetually boggled. Is there something to be said for not knowing a name after all?
Electron micrograph of a chloroplast in an Anemone leaf, image from Wikipedia
Diagram of a thylakoid membrane from Wikipedia