Grains of pollen as seen by an electron microscope


Behold, the face of the enemy.

(Why, yes, my nose is rather runny, why do you ask?)

Urge to vengeance aside, my main reaction while flipping through this gallery of pollen images was wonder at the intense variety of sizes, shapes, textures and tricks floating through the microscopic world of plant pollen. This group shot ranges from the (relatively) giant orb of pumpkin pollen in the center, to the teensy blue dot that belongs to the forget-me-not. Some of the grains seem like completely alien things, but others bear a striking resemblance to the plants they help create—for instance, I guessed that Venus fly trap pollen went with the Venus fly trap before I read the caption.

All these shots are the work of Swedish Swiss scientist Martin Oeggerli, who makes amazing art using a scanning electron microscope. The images actually start out in black and white, with Oeggerli going back and adding color, pixel by pixel. The colors can, but don't necessarily, reflect reality, but they do help make textures stand out and make the form more easily readable by your eye.

The Telegraph: Full pollen image gallery

Martin Oeggerli explains the technology behind his photos, from microscope, to sample preparation, to coloration.

Image: Martin Oeggerli/Micronaut