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Image: Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility, Dartmouth College

Never mind that they look like virulent viruses or a fetish from someone’s kinky imagination; these little nuggets are the grains of life. We’re used to seeing bees’ knees thickly coated in them, or being told on summer weather reports that their count is going through the roof, but it’s a rare thing indeed to see pollen under the microscope, up close and personal and in all its juicy detail.


Image: Saint Verde Digest

It might look all fluffy to the naked eye, but pollen is a coarse if not quite vulgar substance – powder but not powder puff stuff that produces the male gamete – that’s sperm cells to you and me – of seed plants.

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Image: Saint Verde Digest

A hard coat covering the pollen grain like a Hell’s Angel’s studded leather jacket protects the sperm cells as they are travelling from the man part, or stamen, of one flower to the lady part, or pistil, of the next.

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