DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY. DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY.
Scanning electron micrograph, tinted green, of the stinging hairs along the main vein on the under- surface of a stinging nettle leaf, Urtica dioica. The stings are long hairs with silicified tips which break off when the nettle is brushed against or stroked (not grasped). The sting penetrates the skin, injecting a mixture of acetylcholine & hist- amine; the former is a neurotransmitter substance normally produced at nerve terminals, the latter a chemical mediator normally produced by mast cells & responsible for many of the unpleasant symptoms of allergic reactions. Only the long hairs on the leaf are stinging hairs; the short ones are harm- less. Magnification: X 6 at 35mm size. Original is BW print B745/038.
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