Microscopy – Amazing African Violets


If you’re looking for an interesting way to look at a whole range of specialised cells from one plant, this new resource is what you need. African Violets (Saintpaulia) are cheap, easy to get hold of, and are excellent plants for investigating specialised plant cells using a microscope. There’s no need to stain the slides, and students simply place a small piece of plant tissue in a drop of water on the slide, before covering it with a cover slip.

It’s easy to see cells and structures of various kinds, including:

  • Guard cells and stomata
  • Hairs (trichomes) and the cells that make trichomes
  • Trichome contents (and cytoplasmic streaming)
  • Xylem vessels
  • Petal Cells
  • Pollen grains

This resource includes a worksheet, a powerpoint, and two videos.


Cytoplasmic movement in petal trichomes

Cytoplasmic movement in leaf trichomes

This resource was developed by Nuffield Education Fellow and science teacher Vicki Cottrell.

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