grass silica cell
the siliceous secondary cell walls of certain terrestrial
plants. Phytoliths are destroyed by hydrofluoric acid so they are
never present in routine palynological preparations, and phytoliths
processing involves treatment with strong oxidizing agents, which
destroy pollen. Studied phytoliths generally range from ca. 20 - 50 µm.
Identification is based on cell form (e.g.; dumbbells, saddles, bowls,
boats), which is generally not diagnostic to the genus or species
taxonomic level. Carbone (1977) has demonstrated consistent morphology
at the subfamily level (festucoid, panicoid, chloroid) and has used these
differences to indicate progressive development of U.S.A.
Midwestern grasslands during the Holocene.