An optical microscope shows the pith cells and the cell wall structures. Dyed with brilliant crystal blue stain to show the cell walls. The pith cells are located in the center of the stem and are responsible for storing and transporting nutrients throughout the plant.
An SEM image of the cross section of the major leaf vein. The bottom of the image is the bottom of the leaf. The structure is for support as well as holding the pith cells that help transport nutrients throughout the leaf. The image represents a section of the leaf approximately 3 mm across.
An individual glandular trichome. Approximately 0.05 mm high, the glandular trichome is the source of the highest concentration of THC in cannabis most often found on the bottom of the leaf and in the plant bud.
All three shots are SEM images of the bottom of the leaf. Just look at all those trichomes! Tall needlelike defensive trichomes, and the short spherical glandular trichomes which produce high levels of THC. The chemical THC is produced by the plant to ward off insect and herbivore predators . It just so happens that humans find this chemical of medical interest, and have crossbred the plant to increase the THC levels. THC is shorthand for Tetrahydrocannabinol also known as (( 6aR,10aR)-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), it is the psychoactive chemical in the cannabis plant. THC was first isolated in 1964 by Israeli scientists Raphael Mechoulam and Yechiel Gaoni . If you look closely at the surface you can see the stoma structures scattered around the leaf surface that allow the leaf to breathe .
An optical image of the cross section of a leaf support (petiole). The notch in the structure points up and is believed to be associated with water flow over the leaf structure. The center of the structure is where the pith cells are located, in a mature leaf the center section would be completely filled with pith cells. This section has been dyed with neutral red and brilliant crystal blue. This picture of the petiole shows a 3 mm wide field of view. The image is a panoramic made from 18 individual images and combined with the panoramic feature in Photoshop.
A cannabis seed at three days old. The seeds were incubated at (21ºC) on a damp paper towel and kept in the dark. The image was taken at 3x with a Canon macro lens and was focus stacked from 20 individual images. The images were collected with a stack-shot manufactured by Cognisys and combined using Zerene stacker software. Many of the following optical images used similar techniques.
The surface of a cannabis seed seen under a scanning electron microscope. Magnification of the image shows a section of the seed coat approximately 0.2 mm across. The surface of the seed is a grooved structure that serves two different purposes: to absorb water and the strange shape is postulated to make the growth of bacteria difficult. Image taken with a Cambridge S200 scanning electron microscope. [Editor’s note: Ted runs the SEM from his house, see this Micscape article.]
This is a highly magnification SEM image of the cell structure that allows the carbon dioxide to enter inside the leaf. This is the leaf stoma. The structure is made of two cells called the guard cells that open and close the vent depending on the time of day.
Scanning electron microscope images of the bud of a cannabis plant. This image shows the diverse forms the trichomes exhibit at the plant bud. The bud of the female plant is also the location of the highest concentration of the medicine THC. Recent measurements have shown that the concentration of THC has been found to be above 8% of the weight of the bud. These measurements are highly variable, depending on water content of the bud and techniques used to measure. The concentration of THC continues to increase due to active breading research.
Over the course of the past year I have been working on creating images for a recently released book. Cannabis Under The Microscope: A Visual Exploration of Medicinal Sativa and C. Indica by Ford