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13.05.2020  |  Beate Kittl | News WSL 


Since 2019, over 1,000 coloured microscope photographs of stem cross-sections and anatomical descriptions of grasses and sedges have been added to the species portraits on, the website of the Swiss foundation for wild plants. They were produced by the late Fritz Schweingruber and Hugo Berger, researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL.


The many thousands of microscope photographs of plant stems taken and published by Fritz Schweingruber, who died in January 2020, and his co-author Hugo Berger are not just visually appealing – they also contain a wealth of anatomical information. In all, 1,160 of these cross-sections have been added to the species portraits on the website of Info Flora, the national data and information centre for Swiss flora, since 2019. Anatomical images and descriptions of 345 grass (Poaceae) and sedge (Cyperaceae) species are available at present, with more to follow.

Cross-sections of stems and leaves not only provide an insight into structures botanists cannot see in the field but also reveal useful features that can be used to identify species or distinguish one species from another. “The analyses also cover, to some extent, the relationships between ecology and anatomical structures,” explains Hugo Berger.

The specimens were stained with safranin and astra blue to ensure a clear distinction between woody (red) and non-woody (blue) structures. All stem cross-sections are available in both 100x and 400x magnifications.

The authors’ entire collection, accompanied by anatomical descriptions of stem cross-sections of monocots (monocotyledons) from the European Alpine region, has been published in three volumes by Verlag Dr. Kessel ( There is also a fourth volume, in which the anatomical features mentioned in the collection are described. The project received substantial support from WSL.