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Author: Subject: What substance are thistle spines made of?

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[*] posted on 12-9-2021 at 09:30
What substance are thistle spines made of?

Recently, as one does, I was pulling weeds in my garden. I have a bit of a thistle problem this year, and I had to buy a pair of heavy rawhide gloves to do it. Even with such gloves, it's a task that requires some avoid getting tenderized. <smirk>

And it got me wondering...what substance are thistle spines made of..? Specifically, I'd like to know if they're made of silicon dioxide, also known as our ancient friend, glass. There are many examples of "bio-glass" in the natural world, such as diatom skeletons, nettle spines, and the thorns of some cacti.

I googled around for a while, but I couldn't find any information on this topic.

[Edited on 2021-9-13 by spinjector]
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[*] posted on 12-9-2021 at 11:48

Woody parts of plants are made of lignin, which usually strengthens cellulose structures over time. I don't know whether there is a lot of lignin in these spines already, but it is probably a combination of the two.

As far as I know SiO2 forms microstructures mostly in monocotyledons, for example small crystals in the cell walls of grasses to make them harder to chew for animals without continously growing molars. These structures are usually spread throughout the plant, instead of localized in certain parts of the plant.
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