Leaves of Trees | Underside Views

I walked the path with the Sun to my back. It was about 9 am. The small trees nearby had turned their leaves toward the light. Upon my return, I noticed how much detail was evident in the structure of each leaf as the sunlight shined through it. I brought the camera up close to each in macro-mode. There were different shades of green, symmetry, vein structure, etc. Each image can be enlarged for detail.




Other Scenes of Interest

Leafhopper silhouette shadow on wild grape leaf

Leafhopper silhouette shadow on wild grape leaf

Shadow of the Fly

Long Shadow of the Fly | Top of the leaf

Hooked Tendrils

Hooked Wild Grape Tendrils



If you are interested in knowing more about leaf structure and function, go here. Essentials: A tough clear cuticle covers the top and bottom. Photosynthesis takes place mostly in the palisade cells. Veins carry water to the cells and sap away, but are not shown in this diagram. The stoma lets the leaf breath in CO2 and out O2, and regulate the exchange of water vapor so it doesn’t dry out.


22 thoughts on “Leaves of Trees | Underside Views

  1. OceanDiver

    These are beautiful images. It’s amazing how light on and through leaves reveals so much when we stop to look. The reticulated pattern of veins that looks so random is really extremely effective and provides redundancy if some part of the leaf is damaged. I read somewhere that leaf venation and spider web architecture are used as models in technology, like the electrode networks in solar cells and display screens. Flexibility and resiliency of function.

  2. Eliza Waters

    Love this macro series, Jim, they’re like roadmaps. The transformation from solar photon to sugars via chlorophyll is a miracle and I am forever grateful for it. Without which, there would be precious little life on this planet.

    1. Jim Ruebush Post author

      It is mind boggling how many cells are taking in those photons. One leaf is covered with them. The numbers are staggering.

      Good job, Nature.

  3. Steve Gingold

    I was contemplating some backlit milkweed leaves yesterday morning but did not make images, so I am enjoying yours doubly. Maybe I’ll follow your example tomorrow.

        1. Jim Ruebush Post author

          I transplanted 4 milkweeds from a nearby trail to the edge of my garden in hopes of giving Monarchs some help. The plants are looking fabulous this year, big and strong. They are almost ready to bloom. I wish I had documented the whole process from the start with pictures. I still can start now.

        2. Steve Gingold

          Although I never documented it, we had one plant arrive on its own and have allowed it to spread seeds along our driveway along with spiderwort and others. This is our best year with about two dozen plants. In the past we have had a couple of monarch caterpillars and a bunch of milkweed tussock moth cats as well along with milkweed bugs and milkweed beetles. Last year I got a couple of cool wasps and flies too. But what we really enjoy is the perfume. About as nice a scent as there is in the flora, IMO.

    1. Steve Schwartzman

      Near the shore of Lake Michigan in northeast Illinois a few days ago I photographed some developing inflorescences of Asclepias syriaca, the common milkweed of the Northeast. I also noticed what I took to be a different species of milkweed.

      Almost four decades ago, when I saw my first antelope horns milkweed flower globe in central Texas, I was curious enough about the strange object to get close and smell it. I was surprised at how fragrant it was.

  4. Pingback: 06.14.2016 The leaf project | Stephen Gingold Nature Photography Blog

  5. shoreacres

    Interesting that “palisades” is a term used both for leaf structure and geologic structure. As I was getting caught up on my post reading, I found Steve’s leaves first, and I’m caught by how similar your backlit color is to his. It’s just lovely, and of course the structures are interesting, too.

    I especially like the leaf hopper shadow, and the interlaced tendrils. On my little getaway, I found a morning glory vine in the process of strangling a canna flower. I don’t think there was any intention involved, but then again — there is that Little Shop of Horrors!

      1. shoreacres

        I did a little looking after I remembered Texas’s Llano Estacado, or “staked plains.” I found a note that they should be known, more accurate, as palisaded plains, and that “stake” is at the heart of the word’s meaning. In geology, palisade refers to “a line of cliffs, especially one showing basaltic columns” and in biology, it refers to “an even row of cells e.g.: palisade mesophyll cells.”
        The rows of stakes with one end in the ground and sharped ends at the other, used for defense around forts, also were known as palisades. They probably weren’t as effective as razor wire, but I suspect they did a fair job.

        1. Jim Ruebush Post author

          We frequent a state park to our north called Kepler-Palisades SP. It has a nice cliff face along the river with a hiking trail along it.

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