Dragon’s Teeth

I recently bought some dried dragon fruit at Trader Joe’s, because I’m a total xenophile. (At least, with respect to food — chicken feet? Hey, I’ve never tried that! Hm… chewy….) The dried fruit turned out to be not particularly sweet or tasty, really, but interesting in how terribly full of seeds it was. So I looked up some images of dragon fruit on the internet.

Well, dragon fruit is the fruit of a cactus. One page I found talked about growing up plants from the seeds of fruit acquired at the market.

The cool thing about this is this image in particular:

I’d never thought about it – are cacti monocots or dicots? (Monocots have seeds that form a single leaf, dicots have seeds that have two halves and form a pair of leaves – more info here.) Cacti don’t have leaves! But they do, when they first grow, in their vegetable version of an embryo. Cotyledon leaves are like leaves, but not true leaves, and that’s what that picture is. They don’t look like cacti at all! It reminded me of the ontogeny/phylogeny thing — embryonic humans look like fish, and embryonic cacti look like leaved plants.


PS – the dragon’s teeth name given to the jpg is a cute reference to this myth.

PPS – I admit, cacti can have leafy things, technically speaking, sticking out near their needles in a structure called an “areole“.

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