demonstrating monocot cotyledons

Wilson, Chester E. C9WILSON at STTHOMAS.EDU
Mon Aug 30 12:48:13 EST 1999

I'll reveal my Southern tastes and upbringing by suggesting that hominy
makes an excellent demonstration of monocots' seed anatomy.  The preparation
in lye causes the corn seeds to swell and soften, but all of the tissues
maintain their integrity, including the seedcoat.  The endosperm turns
off-white, the cotyledon turns a creamy yellow color, and the rest of the
embryo becomes a bright white.  Well, maybe I remember the colors of the
embryo wrong and the yellow and white parts are reversed...anyway the parts
all take on different colors and the dissection is eased by the enlarged and
softend seed.

Since moving northwards I have found canned hominy in the 'ethnic foods'
sections of grocery stores when they don't shelf it with the rest of the
canned vegetables.  It is used in many Hispanic recipes.  After dissecting
the corn seeds, talking about the origin of hominy grits (which is dried,
ground hominy), and explaining the the 'i' is silent and the word is
pronounced 'homny' I usually cajole everyone into eating a couple of the
seeds.  Thus this little excursion into the seed anatomy of monocots
broadens to include a bit of applied, agricultural botany and it becomes
something of a multicultural event, not to mention a delightful culinary
expericence.  OK, to be honest I often end up eating most of the can of
hominy at lunch.

Me, I want to live with my feet in Dixie and my head in the cool blue
North...(Jesse Winchester)

Chester Wilson

Biology Department
University of St. Thomas
St. Paul, MN  55116

c9wilson at
fax  (651)962-5209

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