Saturday, January 17, 2009

There is a purpose for everything

The American Sweet Gum is a very well loved but also a very maligned tree. The tree itself is very adaptable and very persistent. It furnishes shade with beautiful fall colors of burgundy, purple, and gold on its 5 sided pointed leaves. But those that love it also hate it for the mess that it makes. The sticky almost ping-pong ball sized seed pods are very rough on feet, and are quite messy. But alas God has a plan for everything. It has recently been discovered those menacing seed pods contain a chemical called Shikimic acid. This chemical is the starting material used to produce the main antiviral agent in the much heralded drug to combat the bird flu. Also used in the drug used to combat most flu strands called Tamiflu. This chemical was previosly only found in a plant called Star Anise only found in China. This large speciman belongs to our friend and fellow plant nut Sue Tomlin of Harmony. The tree was born in what was once a cotton field and was cut back to die but persevered and became multi-stemmed. Anyone still believe that plants do not contain the keys to health and wellness!


  1. As a pharmacist, I find this post very interesting! Thanks for the information. Next time I curse at a gumball, I'll try to remember that they are not all that bad =)

  2. Very cool blog...I will be back