SEM of stinging hairs on nettle leaf

SEM of stinging hairs on nettle leaf

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Credit: DR JEREMY BURGESS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY.

Caption: Scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of the stinging hairs along the main vein on the undersurface of a stinging nettle leaf, Urtica dioica. The stings are long hairs (short ones are harmless) with silicified tips (intact here) which break off when the nettle is brushed against or stroked. The sting penetrates the skin, injecting a mixture of acetylcholine & histamine; the former a neurotransmitter substance normally produced at nerve terminals; the latter a chemical mediator responsible for many of the unpleasant symptoms of allergic reactions. The result is a burning sensation, itching, redness etc. Two insect eggs are visible in bottom right. Mag: X100 (10x8).

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Keywords: botany, leaf, leaves, nature, nettle, plant, plants, stinging hairs, stinging nettle, urtica dioica

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