Wednesday, 26 January 2011

A new leaf

A year ago we brought back a leaf from a New Year trip to the Ogasawara islands 1,000 kilometres south of Tokyo (but still administered by the Tokyo local government). The leaf was from a plant that grows wild, and the next plant grows from the leaf. No seed needed, no male and female, the plant grows from itself. (Vegetative reproduction, apparently.) The plant is a hakarame (simply, "sprouts from leaf", as new leaves bud from the edges of the original) and now, a year later, there is a grown, potted plant from which the above mature, healthy – or even now-dying – leaves were taken. Which means that all the above leaves come from one leaf – essentially clones. Curious to think all these shapes and ages and damages all originate as just repeats of themselves. (In fact, there may be not much difference from taking a cutting of a plant and replanting it, but to start with a leaf and see it all regrow seems more fascinating.)

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