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Cactus trichomes. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of trichomes on the surface of a bunny ears cactus (Opuntia microdasys) stem. The long trichomes (hairs) protect the plant from pest damage. Also seen are smaller interlocking projections from the stem's epidermal cells. These cover stomata (holes, centre left & right) in the stem and help prevent water loss. Stomata open to allow gas exchange between the plant's interior and the atmosphere. The bunny ears cactus is native to arid regions of northern Mexico, but is now grown worldwide as an ornamental plant. It also possesses spines (not seen) to deter large herbivores. Magnification: x190 at 6x7cm size.
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