Microscopy Primer
Light and Color
Microscope Basics
Special Techniques
Digital Imaging
Confocal Microscopy
Live-Cell Imaging
Photomicrography
Microscopy Museum
Virtual Microscopy
Fluorescence
Web Resources
License Info
Image Use
Custom Photos
Partners
Site Info
Contact Us
Publications
Home

The Galleries:

Photo Gallery
Silicon Zoo
Pharmaceuticals
Chip Shots
Phytochemicals
DNA Gallery
Microscapes
Vitamins
Amino Acids
Birthstones
Religion Collection
Pesticides
BeerShots
Cocktail Collection
Screen Savers
Win Wallpaper
Mac Wallpaper
Movie Gallery

Polarized Light Microscopy Digital Image Gallery

Milkweed Fibers

Milkweed is a term used to describe a group of flowering plants belonging to the family Asclepiadaceae. Several varieties of milkweed are cultivated as ornamentals, but some, such as the carrion flower, produce foul odors that attract flies in order to facilitate pollination.

Perennials native primarily to North America, milkweeds are well known for the milky sap that can be found in the leaves, pods, and stems of most species. This sap contains a bitter-tasting alkaloid that discourages most insects and animals from feeding upon the plants, but the larvae of the monarch and other milkweed butterflies have built-in biochemical mechanisms that allow them to consume the substance and store it in their tissues. The stored alkaloid, in turn, makes these butterfly species unpalatable, discouraging potential predators from consuming them.

The fiber of milkweeds, which is often described as floss or silk, is stored in seedpods, which naturally dry and crack open in the autumn, releasing the seeds into the wind for dispersal. Composed of tiny cellulose tubes filled with air, the fibers are unusually buoyant and were utilized during World War II to fill life jackets when kapok fiber became scarce. After the war, milkweed fiber usage tapered off, but over the last twenty years several companies have begun to reexamine the possibilities offered by the soft, lustrous material. Some of these businesses have begun producing comforters and pillows filled with milkweed floss rather than down, while others have explored the materialís ability to recover crude oil from seawater.


BACK TO THE FIBERS GALLERY

BACK TO THE POLARIZED LIGHT GALLERY

Questions or comments? Send us an email.
© 1998-2013 by Michael W. Davidson and The Florida State University. All Rights Reserved. No images, graphics, scripts, or applets may be reproduced or used in any manner without permission from the copyright holders. Use of this website means you agree to all of the Legal Terms and Conditions set forth by the owners.
This website is maintained by our
Graphics & Web Programming Team
in collaboration with Optical Microscopy at the
National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.
Last modification: Tuesday, Jul 25, 2006 at 10:25 AM
Access Count Since November 20, 2003: 9658
For more information on microscope manufacturers,
use the buttons below to navigate to their websites: