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RE: Blue Ferns


There is another possible source of blue colour in ferns and some other
plants, which have been found to occur in the tropics.There are a few
examples of plants that contain small regular structures within the leaf
that act as diffraction gratings. The scattered light can appear to give the
leaf surface a bluish tinge.

I am aware of only one scientific publication on this effect (Gould KS, Lee
DW. 1996. Physical and ultrastructural basis of blue leaf iridescence in
four Malaysian understory plants. American Journal of Botany 83: 45-50).

Apart from being a long-time fern collector, I have an interest in trying
create such structures artifically. Does anyone else know of similar
diffractive effects in plants (there are lots of other examples of this
colour effect in Nature - butterfly wings, beetle shells, mollusc shells,
opals etc)?

Terry Turney
Co-Director,  CSIRO Nanotechnology Centre 
& Science Director, Novel Materials & Processes
CSIRO Manufacturing & Infrastructure Technology
Private Bag 33,
Clayton South MDC, 
Victoria, AUSTRALIA, 3169

Phone: 	+ 61 3 9545 2692
FAX:	+ 61 3 9544 1128
e-mail: 	terry.turney@csiro.au

To the extent permitted by law, CSIRO does not represent, warrant and/or
guarantee that the integrity of this communication has been maintained or
that the communication is free of errors, virus, interception or

The information contained in this e-mail may be confidential or privileged.
Any unauthorised use or disclosure is prohibited.  If you have received this
e-mail in error, please delete it immediately and notify Terry Turney on 61
3 9545 2692.  Thank you.

-----Original Message-----
From: philip crabb [mailto:ninnescah@hotmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, 27 February 2003 7:19 PM
To: ferns@hort.net
Subject: [ferns] Blue Ferns

Since coloration in ferns was a recent topic, I wonder if I might ask about 
the blue coloration in some ferns.  There are several Elaphoglossum species 
that are a deep blue green, and even more so when they come in contact with 
water.  And there is Microsorum steerii that does the same thing.  What is 
the origin of the blue color, and can it be enhanced?  Aluminum sulphate is 
fed to hydrangeas to deepen their blue.  Can this be done with ferns?
Philip Crabb

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