Fixing Sunflower Stems

Mon Oct 26 12:56:36 EST 1998

Can anyone suggest an alternative to FAA (formalin-acetic
acid-alcohol) as a fixative for plant stem sections.   

I have some two-foot-high sunflower plants growing under growth
chamber conditions and intended for free-hand stem sectioning and
staining in a botany lab on stem anatomy, scheduled in about three
weeks.   By then, the plants will have passed the point of being best
for sectioning, so I would like to cut the stems into 1-1.5-inch
sections and submerge them in fixative for the 3 week period.   From
what I read, FAA would serve the purpose, but I would like to know if
there is a non-formalin based fixative that would work as well or
better so we can avoid the formalin.   Suggestions on any part of this
plan, particularly the fixative, will be appreciated.

John E. Silvius
Professor of Biology
Box 601
Cedarville College
Cedarville, Ohio   45314
E-mail:   silviusj at

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