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Grassland Silica Phytolith Through the Microscope

Silica Phytolith

This is an example of a grass phytolith from Eastern Washington State. This is a Pine/grassland environment. These silica phytoliths are a significant part of the soil in grasslands.

Transmitted Circular Polarized Light Illumination


Significance in the Environment:

Silica phytoliths are very common in grassland soils. They are a common airborne particle in grassland environments. The longer rods may be an upper respiratory irritant similar to glass fiber but that has not been adequately investigated.

Characteristic Features:

Silica phytoliths are colorless, isotropic, and have a refractive index around 1.46. They come in a wide variety of shapes and can be used to characterize the plants in an environment or paleo-environment.

Associated Particles: