When the Urban Jungle Bloggers revealed this month’s subject was botanical zoom, I started going through my pictures. I have many up-close pictures of my plants, but I was especially drawn to the “hairy” plants.
They are so interesting. How do plants grow “hair”? I have no idea. I have googled, researched, and read, but I can’t find any real answers. I do, however, know why they grow hair. They need it, in the case of cactus, to protect themselves from the hot, burning sun. The more sun they are in, the more hair they grow. It also helps keep them safe from animals. Who wants to eat a mouthful of hair? The hairs also help keep the surface of the cactus cooler in the high temperatures they grow in. It has been reported that if and when these hairy cacti get dirty or dusty, they can be “shampooed” with a mild soap and water. I have not tried this. Though it might be tempting to pet these plants, look closely and you can see the wicked spines underneath the hair.
Cactus aren’t the only plants that grow a form of hair. I love the fuzzy rhizomes of the rabbit’s foot fern Davalia fejeensis. These rhizomes are really stems and in their natural habitat, these ferns can grow on trees as epiphytes. The hairs on these rhizomes help to protect the stems from desiccation and also protect them from abrasion as they creep along.
Many other plants have hirsute or hairy surfaces. Some other hairy plants include Kalanchoes, African violets, and begonias to name a few.
Here are some more cactus and succulent pictures and the bear’s paw fern Polypodium aureum.
It is fun to zoom in on your plants. You never know what you might find, but rest assured it will be something interesting.