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Advent Calendar Day 5 – Forever green

Winter would be that much sadder without the green that remains on some trees – like our beloved Christmas trees conifers. They resist the peer pressure of other trees that drop their foliage as soon as it gets a little bit colder.… Read more

Advent Day 2 – Poinsettia

Next up on the ‘plants we associate with Christmas’ roundabout is the Poinsettia (aka, Euphorbia pulcherrima). Here are five fast facts about these red and green beauties.… Read more

Advent Day 1 – The First Christmas Tree

While Christmas trees are now ubiquitous and popular, the tradition of erecting a pine or fir in the confines of a home is relatively new. Using evergreens as a reminder of the better, as in warmer, times is an older tradition but it was Martin Luther, the protestant reformer, who is credited with coming up with the first Christmas tree. Whether it is folklore or truth is hard to tell these days, the first documented Christmas tree dates back to 1576 and is displayed in a keystone in Alsace in Germany France.… Read more

Short Chain Hero

It’s grey and rainy days like this November in Berlin that make you very aware of your immune system and how it works, perhaps not always successfully, to fends off all kinds of pathogens. Plants are in a similar situation, their immune response has to constantly be ready to fight off fungi, bacteria or viruses. Recently, researchers gained new understanding of the workings of a key part of the plant’s immune response.… Read more

Healing Herbs II – Artemisinin

Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease that affects hundreds of millions of people each year, and kills over 500,000. Worldwide, the chosen treatment for malaria is artemisinin combination therapy (ACT), a medicine that relies on the drug artemisinin that happens to come from a plant…… Read more

Bacteriocins waging war in the Bacteria Battlegrounds

Pseudomonas syringae is a gram-negative bacteria that can have a devastating effect on a range of crops. From tomatoes, to beans, to tobacco, to kiwifruit – P syringae can destroy them all (or at least heavily maim them, resulting in crop losses). So what’s the answer? Recent research suggests that bacteriocins might be a suitable weapon in the battle against the bacteria.… Read more

Healing Herbs I – Paclitaxel

We’ve sung their praises before, and we’ll do it again: plants make the oxygen we breathe, the food we eat, the fibres that form our clothing, our fuel, and our shelters. Plus they’re just so darn pretty. But one of the things we mention perhaps less often, is that these glorious greens are not only there for us in the good times, they’ve also got us covered in the bad. Today we’re starting a new series, where we discuss some of the amazing (scientifically supported) medicines that have been developed from planty products.… Read more