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Showing posts from January, 2012

Tragia ramosa: the spicy side of tactility

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Ouch! Great Oden’s Raven!This is what I exclaim moments before I locate Tragia ramosa while fingering my way through a quadrat or as I sit for lunch in an open glade with a view and decide to lay back and reflect. The nasty needlish and nettle-like hairs of this gangly dweller of grassland understories deftly prick the skin and give you a dose of hot proteinaceous exudate that, tingling as it burns, lasts for hours after the encounter. Try to avoid it as I may, I become hostage to Tragia’s maniacal “gotcha” game time and time again. That being said, I am a big fan. It just has that lovable bulldoggish quality to it. And the fruits, how amazing are those bristly gynophorous brutes?
The complexity of Tragia’s pain delivery system is fascinating and has been intimately studied and explained by Thurston (1976). As explained by Thurston, each stinging “hair” is made up of four cells. Three of these cells are parallel to each other in an elongate fashion. The base of the triad is anc…