Lady’s Mantle

Water drops on Lady's mantle
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Dominicus Johannes Bergsma, Share Alike 4.0

In the mornings, it is often possible to see large droplets of water on the leaves of some plants. These droplets make an excellent subject for photography and do not have an obvious purpose. Some of them, notably those on the leaves of Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle), have been admired over the centuries, with alchemists collecting the droplets as “the purest form of water” for their recipes for transmutation and the elixir of life. The persistence of droplets of water on this plant long into the day can be mesmerizing. Droplets roll readily down the main leaf of Lady’s Mantle, but collect and are retained in its central patch (see close up images of the leaf’s surface to the right). Read more about this process here and in the publication below.

SEM image of main leaf, Lady’s Mantle
SEM image of central patch, Lady’s Mantle

Publication

Learning from superhydrophobic plants: The use of hydrophilic areas on superhydrophobic surfaces for droplet control N.J. Shirtcliffe, G. McHale and M.I. Newton, Langmuir 25 (2009) 14121-14128