Archaeobotany: Phytolith teaching & research images

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This is a work in progress to make available a set of phytolith photographs of Old World reference material. Starting particularly with the Near East but with some material from India & China.

Reference material from the Institute's collections has been ashed, mounted and photographed. The ashing, slide preparation and photography has been carried out by Emma Harvey, Alison Weisskopf, Phillippa Ryan, and Rhiannon Jackson. The initial focus is husk material from the Near Eastern grasses. A few external links have been included. This project was started with support from an ESCILTA grant from University College London.

Try this phytolith learners worksheet: worksheet 1.0 [pdf] . .........Feedback appreciated

Index to families & grass subfamilies (below) ..............................morphotype indices [prototype: under construction]

Aceraceae (maples) Cyperaceae (Sedges) Ulmaceae (elms)
Anacardiaceae Equisetaceae (horsetails)  
Arecaceae (palms) Fagaceae (oaks and beech)  
Boraginaceae (gromwells) Graminae (see Poaceae below)  
Cistaceae (rock roses) Musaceae (bananas)  
Cucurbitaceae (Gourds)

Palmae (= Arecaceae)

Poaceae / Graminae (Grasses)
subfamily Arundinoideae
subfamily Bambusoideae
subfamily Chloridoideae
subfamily Ehrhartoideae
subfamily Panicoideae
subfamily Pooideae


Grass (POACEAE) phytoliths, arranged by subfamily. Other families follow.
genera are aphabetical within subfamily.


Saddle- taller than chloridoid

Arundo donax  

Phragmites australis (syn. P. communis)



Tall saddles, bilobes, and rondels

Bambusoid genera


Chloridoideae Squat saddles and bilobes

Aeluropus littoralis


Cynodon dactylon


Dactyloctenium aegyptium (infloresence)


Eleusine indica


Eleusine coracana


Eragrostis minor


Eragrotis pectinacea



Scopped bilobes

Leersia oryzoides


Oryza granulata


Oryza nivara


Oryza officinalis


Oryza punctata


Oryza rufipogon


Oryza sativa

more Oryza sativa husk

Oryza spontanea



Bilobes, and rondels

Bracharia ramosa


Cenchrus pennisetiformis


Cenchrus (extrenal links) Cenchrus longispinus leaf / infloresence (American)

Coix lacryma-jobi




Echinochola colona


Echinochloa crus-galli


Panicum miliaceum (husk)

(culm) (leaf)

Panicum sumatrense


Panicum turgidum (leaf)


Panicum typheron


Paspalum scrobiculatum


Pennisteum alopecuroides


Pennisetum glaucum


Saccharum officinale (culm node)  
Saccharum spontaneum (leaf)  

Setaria italica


Setaria palmiflora


Setaria plicata


Setaria pumila


Setaria verticillata


Setaria viridis


Sorghum bicolour (leaf) (culm)



Rondels and long wavy trapezoids

Aegilops crassa

Aegilops speltoides

Agropyron pectiniforme
(=A. cristatum)

Agrostis gigantea


Agrostis spp. (external links)

Agrostis alba (American), A. elliottiana (American)

Alopecurus arundinaceus


Alopecurus myosuroides


Avena barbata  
Avena fatua  
Avena sativa  
Briza minor (external links: leaf) (external link: root)

Bromus catharicus


Bromus sterilis


Bromus tectorum


Dactylis glomerata (external links) leaf ../.. infloresence

Eremopyrum bonaepartis


Eremopyrum confuscum


Eremopyrum tritceum


Festuca sp. (rachis) (culm)  

Hordeum spontaneum


Hordeum vulgare..... 2 row.... 6 row

more Hordeum vulgare husk

Koeleria cristata


Lolium temulentum


Lolium rigidum


Lolium persicum


Phalaris aquatica


Phalaris arundinacea


Phalaris canariensis


Phalaris minor


Pharalis paradoxa


Poa sp. Poa spp. (external images)

Secale anatolicum


Secale cereale


Secale montanum


Stipa capensis


Stipa capillata


Stipa pennata


Taeniatherum caput-medusae crinitum


Triticum aestivum


Triticum boeoticum


Triticum compactum


Triticum carthlicum


Triticum dicoccoides


Triticum dicoccum


Triticum durum


Triticum macha


Triticum monococcum


Triticum spelta


Triticum sphaerococcum


Triticum timopheevi


Triticum turgidum


Triticum vavilovii


Maples (ACERACEAE)  
Acer campestre  
Pistacia sp. (fruit)  
palms (ARECACEAE)  
Borassus flabellifer  
Cocos nucifera  
Arnebia decumbens  
Buglossoides tenuiflora  
Helianthemum salicifolium  
Lagenaria sciceraria (external sources) Steve Archer's Lagenaria

Lagenaria diagnostic from D. Piperno's webpage



Carex divisa


Carex hispida  
Cyperus rotundus  
Scirpus lacustris  

horsetails (EQUISETACEAE)

Equisetum variegata  
oak/beech (FAGACEAE)  
Fagus sylvatica  
bananas (MUSACEAE)  
Musa paradisica  
elms (ULMACEAE)  
Ulmus sp.  

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last updated 16 April 2007

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