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September 11 2012

The breathtaking African rainforest fruit that is the 'most colourful known to science'

A dazzling African rainforest fruit has been hailed as the most colourful biological species known to science.

The small, spherical, metallic blue ‘beads’ grow at the head of the 1ft 6in high Pollia condensata plant that ranges from Ethiopia to Angola and Mozambique where they are used as decoration.

Its cells all reflect different colours giving it a ‘pointillist appearance’ - the technique used by impressionist painters to use a series of dots to represent a solid whole.

State-of-the-art microscopes showed its iridescent skin - meaning it changes colour according the angle at which it is observed - has no blue pigment.

Its intense colour comes from the interaction of light with tiny fibres of cellulose strands stacked as layers of helixes within the cellular walls of the fruit’s skin.

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