Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Marine Botany
Distichlis spicata

Morphology: Microscopic
(see also Morphology: Macroscopic)

Cross section of a Distichlis blade (with the help of Judith Connor)

Basic Structure:

The photograph above shows a cross section of a typical Distichlis blade. The blade itself is composed of long bundles, arranged in horizontal rows, which are connected by parallel rows of fibers (shown as clear in the above photo). These bundles in Distichlis consist of a thick-walled outer-sheath (yellowish outer ring) surrounding an inner-sheath that contains the chloroplasts (green inner ring), which in turn surrounds the vascular bundle containing the xylem and phloem.

The following two photographs are of the surface of a Distichlis blade, the first with the light source located above the sample and the second with the light source located below the sample. The three-dimensional ridges visible on the surface in the first photograph below and the dark-green lines in the second photograph below are defined by the bundles and the fibers that connect them as seen in the first photograph on the page. Also note the presence in the second photograph of the numerous papillae that cover the entire blade surface:

Surfaces of Distichlis blades (~80 micrometers across)

The following photograph was taken with a scanning electron microscope at a magnification of 240x. Note again the papillae present on the surface and the salt crystal near the top right corner of the photograph:

Surface of Distichlis blades under SEM

Additional photographs and a discussion of the salt glands of Distichlis can be found in the salt extrusion section of the site.

Last updated March 2003, Justin Kitzes.

Copyright and reproduction information can be found here.