The tiny, rock-hard fruits of Pollia condensata, a wild plant that grows in the forests of Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania and other African countries, can’t be eaten raw, cooked or turned into a beverage. In Western Uganda and elsewhere, though, the plant’s small metallic fruits have long been used for decorative purposes because of an unusual property: They stay a vibrant blue color for years or even decades after they’ve been picked. A specimen at the Kew Botanical Gardens in London that was gathered in Ghana in 1974 still retains its iridescent hue.
Intrigued, a team of researchers from Kew, the University of Cambridge and the Smithsonian Natural History Museum decided to look into how this plant produces such dazzling and persistent color. When they attempted to extract a pigment to study, though, they were surprised to discover the fruit had none. - Continue reading at Smithsonian.com.
Ed note: How creative minds are turning to nature for fresh design solutions.