Back Then:[Wintergreen] boiled in wine and water and given to drink to them that have any inward ulcers in their kidneys or neck of the bladder, doth wonderfully help them; it stayeth also all fluxes, whether of blood or humours, [such] as the lask, bloody flux, women’s courses, and bleeding of the womb, and taketh away any inflammation rising upon pains of the heart.
– The English Physician, Nicholas Culpeper, 1652
And Now:Oil of wintergreen, now obtained by distillation of the leaves, contains methyl salicylate, similar to aspirin, which is a longstanding treatment for cardiovascular conditions including heart attacks, acting as an anti-inflammatory and blood thinner.
Image: Thank luciferin for mushrooms’ mysterious glow. (Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain)
by Erin Blakemore
When is a mushroom more than just a mushroom? When it glows. It might sound like a psychedelic riddle, but when it comes to bioluminescent mushrooms, it’s reality.
The glow-in-the-dark fungi have been found in places like Brazil and Vietnam. But now, reports Rachel Becker for The Verge, have researchers described the compound that gives the mushrooms their glow—and figured out how it’s made.
It’s called oxyluciferin, and it was a mystery until quite recently. Though bioluminescent mushrooms have long been studied by scientists, they weren’t sure why the fungi glowed until 2015, when a team of researchers figured out that the mushrooms use luciferins—light-emitting compounds found in other glowing animals and plants—to attract insects.
The bugs then help spread their spores to sheltered places in the forest, which helps the mushroom species survive.
Luciferins give fireflies and even bioluminescent underwater creatures their glow. Paired with an enzyme and oxygen, it releases light that illuminates the fungi.
But how do the mushrooms make the stuff? A new study published in the journal Science Advances has the answer.
Scientists went foraging for the glow-in-the-dark mushrooms in Brazil and Vietnam. Back in the lab, reports Becker, they crushed the mushrooms to make a slurry filled with luciferins. Then they isolated the luciferin and studied it, capturing its chemical structure and experimenting with its ability to fuel those flourescent colors.
Not only does the team now know that the mushrooms are fueled by their own kind of luciferin, but they also figured out that the enzyme that combines with the chemical to trigger light could be what they call “promiscuous.”
That means that the enzyme might be able to interact with different luciferins—and produce even more shades of that pretty glow. And that suggests that when it comes to these magical mushrooms, there’s even more to discover.
When absinthe — also known as the Green Fairy — was banned in France, Switzerland, the United States and many other countries in the early 1900s, it had become associated with illicit behavior.
In fact, it was accused of turning children into criminals, encouraging loose morals and inspiring murders. That regular old alcohol received similar treatment during the Prohibition period in the United States turns out to be pretty apropos:
We now know that properly manufactured absinthe — an anise-flavored, alcoholic drink — is no more dangerous than any other properly prepared liquor.
What about the tales of hallucinations, Oscar Wilde and his tulips, family massacres and instant death?
Not absinthe’s fault, technically speaking. Absinthe does have a very high alcohol content — anywhere between 55 and 75 percent, which equates to about 110 to 144 proof.
It makes whiskey’s standard 40 percent (80 proof) seem like child’s play, which is why absinthe is supposed to be diluted.
Absinthe is not a hallucinogen; its alcohol content and herbal flavor sets it apart from other liquors.
Traditional absinthe is made of anise, fennel and wormwood, a plant (see Image above), and various recipes add other herbs and flowers to the mix.
The anise, fennel and wormwood are soaked in alcohol, and the mixture is then distilled. The distillation process causes the herbal oils and the alcohol to evaporate, separating from the water and bitter essences released by the herbs.
The fennel, anise and wormwood oils then recondense with the alcohol in a cooling area, and the distiller dilutes the resulting liquid down to whatever proof the absinthe is supposed to be (based on brand variations or regional laws).
At this point, the absinthe is clear; many manufacturers add herbs to the mixture after distillation to get the classic green color from their chlorophyll.
The chemical that’s taken all the blame for absinthe’s hallucinogenic reputation is called thujone, which is a component of wormwood. In very high doses, thujone can be toxic.
It is a GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) inhibitor, meaning it blocks GABA receptors in the brain, which can cause convulsions if you ingest enough of it. It occurs naturally in many foods, but never in doses high enough to hurt you.
And there’s not enough thujone in absinthe to hurt you, either.
Origins: Purchased in Northern New South Wales in 2001. As a small Bonsai.
History: Grown in a large black pot for its first three years and it was slowly styled for branch structure. The tree responded well to rain water and has been exclusively watered with it.
I then put it into its first Bonsai pot and entered into the club critique as a novice tree. It then went on to win Novice tree of the year that same year.
With the intention to thicken the trunk it was placed back into a large black pot for another two years to grow. It was then placed into a deep Bonsai pot with a glazed red and black motley effect.
The pot was never quite right for the tree and I was not 100% happy with my selection.
However the tree was placed into a tray of rain water to live trying to replicate its natural conditions.
Despite missing branch six and its awkward nebari it went on to win more awards both at the club and at the Royal Adelaide Show. I took action to try to correct the two main problems.
I have put a small slit in the nob under the trunk of the tree and packed it with sphagnum moss hoping to create a root, and growing a sacrifice branch which I hope to use as a thread graft for branch six.
Photo by Thangmar on Wikipedia | Copyright: Public Domain
Contributor: Josh (Admin)
More of an out-of-control tree than the lilting flower the name might suggest, the Rose of Hildesheim, otherwise known as the Thousand-Year Rose, is thought to be the oldest living rose on the planet, and it looks to continue to be for the foreseeable future since not even bombs can stop it.
Growing up the side of a columnar portion of Germany’s Hildesheim Cathedral, the now-bushy flower is thought to have been planted in the early 800s when the church itself was founded.
Miraculously, the hearty plant slowly crept up the side of the apse for hundreds of years, and still continues bud and bloom each year, producing pale pink flowers once a year (usually around May).
While the rose bush looks as though it’s big enough to have been growing for a thousand years, the plant has been nearly destroyed a number of times throughout its history.
Most notably the bush was nearly completely razed during the Second World War when Allied bombs annihilated the cathedral.
Every bit of the plant above ground was destroyed, but from the rubble, new branches grew from the root that survived.
Today the the base of the Thousand-Year Rose is protected by a squat iron fence and each of the central roots is named and catalogued to protect one of the oldest pieces of natural beauty one is lucky to find.