PHYTOLITHS

grass silica cell grass silica cell

Zea cross body Coconut phytolith
PHYTOLITHS: 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.