Silicon and Siliceous Structures in Biological Systems

pp 409-449

Silica in Shoots of Higher Plants

  • P. B. Kaufman
  • , P. Dayanandan
  • , Y. Takeoka
  • , W. C. Bigelow
  • , J. D. Jones
  • , R. Iler

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In the shoots of vascular plants, silica is deposited as amorphous silica gel, SiO2 · nH2O. It occurs in many plant families including the scouring rushes or horsetails (Equisetaceae), grasses (Poaceae), sedges (Cyperaceae), ginger family (Zingiberaceae), spiderworts (Commelina- ceae), nettles (Urticaceae), elm family (Ulmaceae), vervain family (Ver- benaceae), hemp family (Cannabaceae), and pea family (Fabaceae). A much more comprehensive and complete listing is found in Voronkov et al. (1975). In many of the plants in these families, silica is deposited in hairs (or trichomes). However, it may also occur in stomata, ordinary epidermal cells, and in specialized silica cells in grasses. Silica also occurs in other tissues internal to the epidermis in leaves, stems, roots, and reproductive structures. The groups of plants that accumulate significant amounts of silica in their shoots, which we shall call “silica rich,” include the scouring rushes or horsetails, grasses, and sedges.