African Berry With Most Intense Colour in the World Has No Actual Colour Pigmentation


Thu, Mar 7th, 2013 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

In the Surprising Science blog, The Smithsonian brings to attention the Pollia condensata, a perennial herb found in the forested regions of Africa that sports "small metallic fruits" which have "long been used for decorative purposes because of an unusual property: They stay a vibrant blue color for years or even decades after they?ve been picked."

Intrigued, a team of researchers from Kew, the University of Cambridge and the Smithsonian Natural History Museum decided to look into how this plant produces such a dazzling and persistent color. When they attempted to extract a pigment to study, though, they were surprised to discover the fruit had none.

When they examined P. condensata on a cellular level, they realized that the fruit produces its characteristic color through structural coloration, a radically different phenomenon that is well-documented in the animal kingdom but virtually unknown in plants. They determined that the fruit's tissue is more intensely colored than any previously studied biological tissue -- reflecting 30 percent of light, as compared to a silver mirror, making it more intense than even the renowned color of a Morpho butterfly?s wings. Their findings were revealed in a new study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.



You may also be interested in:

Lava Pour No. 5: Pouring Lava Over Ice
The Journal of Serendipitous and Unexpected Results
Sodium Party
"If we're not killing people, we're not pushing hard enough."
Using Sound to Grab Objects and Move Them