Phytomorphology 10: Mark of The Monarch

What we have here is an exterior examination of the vascular system of a vegetative structure: a leaf. We observe the effects of an antimicrobial allelochemic response. The leaf produces an organic compound called phytoncide which retards decomposition and discourages insect attacks.

In other words, this is a leaf protecting itself. Leaf self defense. It’s a leaf refusing to go gentle into that good night. It’s a leaf in Alamo mode; it can’t win, but it’s not giving up without a fight. It’s a leaf that can quote Daidōji Shigesuke, the samurai scholar: One’s way of dying validates one’s entire life.

Forget the chemical reaction, forget the systematic study of a plant’s structure, forget even the purpose of a leaf. Just look at it. Just look at it, and appreciate the beauty of its ending as a celebration of the beauty of its life.

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